Ridley answers to fumbling hubbub


Ridley answers to fumbling hubbub

FOXBORO -- A lot is being made of Stevan Ridley and fumbling.
He's done it twice.
In his rookie year, the running back fumbled once in Week 17 and once the next week (this one lost) in New England's playoff matchup with Denver. He didn't play again in 2011.
There was a great deal of hand-wringing from fans. Probably too much. 'When would the kid learn to carry the darn ball?' they cried.
A lost fumble in the playoffs is a bad play, but how did it turn into a "ball security issue"? Ridley, at least, sounds confident and ready to move on.
"You look back and you learn from your mistakes. Those two fumbles on the ground you can't have. But this is a new year. You can't live in the past, but you certainly have to remember what you did that took away that playing time. For me, it's just coming in here trying to start new, start fresh and just come out here and just work hard."
Remember, Kevin Faulk fumbled six times in his sophomore season, 2000.
So is it the standard set by BenJarvus Green-Ellis that made Ridley a leper last year? Probably. It was beat into our brains that The Law Firm had 562 runs, receptions, and kickoff returns without a flub. That's a four year streak of perfection.
All the more impressive because Green-Ellis fumbled 10 times in college and went undrafted. His NFL perfection was projected by no one.
Yet it seems, on the outside, Ridley bears some burden of Green-Ellis' legacy. When asked what could be learn from the former Patriot, he laughed.
"Try to be perfect, because he was perfect. You know what I mean? Sometimes it happens. You can't make excuses for the ball being on the ground. Benny was very fortunate to have the career that he had. That's all I'm going to learn from him is to just hold onto the ball, squeeze it high and tight, and bring it back to the huddle after every play."
Ridley said fumbling is "the worst thing" a running back can do. Which is fair. He said ball security is the most important improvement he can make to his game this offseason. Also fair.
Just be wary when you hear Ridley's ball security called "an issue."
Especially in terms of stacking the competition -- and there's plenty of it. Fellow LSU alum Joseph Addai, with whom Ridley trains each summer, is ripe to take several snaps. The list fills out further with Danny Woodhead's usual work, the yet unrealized potential of Shane Vereen, and promise of Brandon Bolden.
It's not likely two fumbles will keep Bill Belichick from making Ridley his Number One back. There could be five or five hundred other problems in addition to ball security that keep the kid's butt on the bench, but we haven't seen any yet.
Ridley will wait patiently to see if he's tapped.
"Everybody wants to be "that guy", but nobody knows who that guy's going to be. The way we're going to approach it go out there and just try to be the best that we can be and we mean it. That's all Coach Belichick wants us to do, is play as a team. It's not our call who starts. It's our job to just go out there and do what he asks us to do."

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivered a video message last week at the funeral of Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, a Maine native and former UConn track athlete killed in Somalia on May 5.

Bill Speros of The Boston Herald, in a column this Memorial Day weekend, wrote about Milliken and Brady's message.   

Milliken ran track at Cheverus High School in Falmouth, Maine, and at UConn, where he graduated in 2001. Milliken lived in Virginia Beach, Va., with his wife, Erin, and two children.  He other Navy SEALs participated in a training exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011 where he met and posed for pictures with Brady.

Speros wrote that at Milliken’s funeral in Virginia Beach, Va., Brady's video offered condolences and thanked Milliken’s family for its sacrifice and spoke of how Milliken was considered a “glue guy” by UConn track coach Greg Roy.

Milliken had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning four Bronze Star Medals and was based in Virginia since 2004.  He was killed in a nighttime firefight with Al-Shabaab militants near Barij, about 40 miles from the Somali capital of Mogadishu. He was 38.

The Pentagon said Milliken was the first American serviceman killed in combat in Somalia since the "Black Hawk Down" battle that killed 18 Americans in 1993. 

In a statement to the Herald, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said: “It was an honor to host Kyle and his team for an exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011. It gave new meaning to the stadium being known as home of the Patriots. We were deeply saddened to hear of Kyle’s death earlier this month.

“As Memorial Day weekend approaches, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by patriots like Kyle and so many others who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect our rights as Americans. Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt appreciation are extended to the Milliken family and the many families who will be remembering lives lost this Memorial Day weekend.”