ESSENDON reigning best and fairest winner Jordan Ridley was forced to watch from the sidelines as the Bombers tested their new-look forward line in Monday's training session.
Ridley, who became one of the AFL's intercept stars last year in a breakout season, did not partake in the Bombers' near three-hour session at their Tullamarine headquarters.
The 22-year-old instead was on the exercise bike, continuing his program from last week when he was also absent from the main sessions.
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The club says the emerging star, who signed a four-year contract extension last year, is managing his training loads but will be back into group training next week.
Ridley was part of a number of Bombers who were unable to be involved in the match simulation drills under the watchful eye of coach Ben Rutten, including skipper Dyson Heppell, Jake Stringer, David Zaharakis, Patrick Ambrose, Mason Redman, Jayden Laverde, Brandon Zerk-Thatcher and Matt Guelfi, who all did their fitness work on the club's secondary training oval.
Key defender Michael Hurley was away from the club with illness and did not train as a precaution, while wingman Tom Cutler and midfielder Dylan Clarke also did not hit the track. Exciting draftee Archie Perkins, considered the most ready to play of Essendon's trio of top-10 picks, was also restricted to the exercise bicycle.
Heppell has been steadily building up his program after last year's ankle and foot injuries, although it is unclear when the Bombers' captain will be ready to rejoin full training.
Essendon worked on its transition of the ball from defence into the forward line during the session, with youngster Harrison Jones taking the eye as a key marking option in attack.
Jones, who is searching for an AFL debut after not featuring at senior level last year, impressed with his hard running and forward craft and converted several shots at goal during the match practice.
He was partnered in the forward line with recruit Peter Wright, who also took some solid marks as the former Gold Coast goalkicker settles into his new home.
Fellow newcomer Jye Caldwell was also busy in the midfield, showing his power at different stages, while hard-working second-year Bomber Ned Cahill was creative when positioned across half-back.
Ruckman Sam Draper, who emerged as one of the Bombers' most exciting players last season, showed his strength and mobility during training and shapes as an important player for the club as he takes on the mantle of the No.1 ruck position full-time following Tom Bellchambers' retirement.
James Stewart, who moved to defence late last season, also continued to be played in a backline role throughout the session.