Ridley keeping right attitude on ball protection

Ridley keeping right attitude on ball protection
September 16, 2013, 8:45 pm
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FOXBORO -- Stevan Ridley didn't mince words when asked what he needs to do better for the Patriots.

“Hold the ball, man,” he said unflinchingly. "I definitely didn’t get off to the start that I wanted -- I’ll man up and say that."

At present, humility suits him. The running back fumbled in New England's 2013 opener. It was a crushing mistake for a guy who spent a second offseason promising better ball security. Ridley's second quarter fumble in Week 1 upped his career total to eight (six in the regular season, two in the playoffs), and got him benched for the rest of the game.

"I'm really trying not to think about it too much. As a running back, nobody ever wants to see the ball on the ground -- people don't like to see that, fans don't like to see that. But at the end of the day I'm satisfied with myself because I know nobody is harder on me than I am. I accept where I mess up and all I can do is try to get better."

"I don't like that feeling," he stated. "I hate that feeling of putting the ball on the ground and I don't want to see it happen again."

What more he can do? If ball security wasn't his top priority as a rookie, before he fumbled in the regular season finale and again the playoffs, it sure as hell was afterward. The first-year back didn't see a snap after his postseason blunder and vowed to have stickier hands in the future. He committed himself to protecting the football.

But the fumbles keep coming.

"I say, just get on my knees and pray about it, that luck goes your way," he said with a rueful laugh. "But at the end of the day you can't. You just have to play ball. It comes with the sport. Those are times that I really think it tests you mentally more than physically. You either get down about it, or put that as a challenge to yourself.

"Hopefully it won't happen for the rest of the year and I'm going to try hard to make that happen. But the odds are against me, you know what I mean?"

Interesting point by Ridley, and statistics from 2012 back it up. Five other Top 10 running backs who had over 270 carries racked up over 1,000 rushing yards and at least three fumbles: Chris Johnson (276 carries, three fumbles), Jamaal Charles (285 carries, five fumbles), Marshawn Lynch (315 carries, four fumbles), Alfred Morris (335 carries, four fumbles), and Adrian Peterson (348 carries, three fumbles).

Maybe misery likes having tremendously talented company. Ridley really isn't that miserable, though, and he's not looking for excuses.

"I'm not perfect. Nobody really is; we're all human at the end of the day. But my responsibility is to hold on to the football, to bring it back to my team, and I have to do a better job of that down the road."