Ridley claimed the 2020 Crichton Medal and earned All-Australian squad honours at 21 years of age and in his first full season in the red and black, having played just nine senior matches prior to the breakout campaign.
While still a sturdy option on Essendon's last line in recent years, the emergence of Brandon Zerk-Thatcher and Jayden Laverde as the Bombers' leading key-defensive options is set to allow Ridley more freedom in Sott's rearguard this season.
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Zerk-Thatcher looks to have honed his defensive craft across the pre-season after an impressive back half to last year, while Laverde will continue his role as Essendon's first-string defensive stopped.
The duo's partnership is set to allow Ridley to roam as the third option, coming across marking contests and relying on his aerial acumen in defensive 50.
Wednesday's training session at Tullamarine saw the 24-year-old flourish under the ability to move freely and unopposed, a benefit Scott and Bombers fans will be hoping to see more of from the East Burwood product in his seventh season at the club.
Here are further notes from Essendon's midweek session ahead of their pre-season clash with St Kilda on Friday...
Mid-Season Draft proving to be a goldmine for Essendon recruitment strategy
The duo joined Essendon with the third and 18th selections in last year's mid-year intake, with D'Ambrosio managing to impress in a matter of weeks to earn a debut by Round 14.
The dashing defender would play eight games in his maiden year at The Hangar, earning a Rising Star nomination in his third senior appearance after collecting 23 disposals in an upset win over Sydney.
D'Ambrosio, rated for his explosiveness off half-back and composure in moving the ball, has added to his bow over the summer with a stronger presence in the air - either as an intercept threat or negating his direct opponent with his overhead ability.
His fellow mid-season draftee Menzie would break into Essendon's side on two occasions late into last year, with appearances against the Kangaroos and Tigers both coming as the medical sub.
The Tasmanian has turned heads as a small forward target for Scott to consider for Round 1, particularly in the absence of other attacking options currently sidelined through injury.
Menzie's ability at ground level and eye for goal is what had the 180cm forward gain attention out of the SANFL with South Adelaide last year.
Both Menzie and D'Ambrosio look to be shrewd pickups for the Bombers, adding to their 2021 mid-year haul of Sam Durham.
Durham too has quickly cemented his place in Essendon's best side and will work in tandem with S2022 SP acquisition Nic Martin as wider midfield options for Scott to consider.
Bombers to be without more key names for St Kilda encounter
Essendon will be hoping for a wider crop of selections for their season opener against Hawthorn, with several senior names currently training away from the main group days out from their clash with the Saints at Linton Street.
Forward livewire Jake Stringer is continuing to battle a hamstring strain that has him in doubt to face the Hawks, while Matt Guelfi and Ben Hobbs are still building their workloads as they recover from calf issues.
Midfield-forward hybrid Kyle Langford joined the injured trio in being limited to light running on Wednesday and is expected to not take part in Friday's pre-season hitout.
Jye Caldwell was unable to finish Wednesday's session, however a specific ailment remains unclear.
New recruit set to ease Wright's ruck load
Demon-turned-Bomber Sam Weideman joined Andrew Phillips and Nick Bryan in training with ruck coach Mark Jamar toward the end of Wednesday's session, potentially looking yo take on the ruck duties for forward 50 contests.
To add to his playing prospects and versatility, a pinch-hit role as the supporting option to leading ruckman Sam Draper could be of great benefit to Weideman's selection chances and Scott's attacking tactics.
Should Weideman take on more of the ruck workload, it will free up leading key forward Peter Wright to focus on his forward traits for the season ahead.
Having developed as a ruck forward through his younger years and with the Gold Coast Suns, Wright has taken on the secondary ruck role under Draper since joining the Bombers.
Off the back of his 53-goal campaign, the 26-year-old will be hoping for more freedom as a full-time forward to better his career-best season.