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."

Mike Giardi: Don’t think Patriots will use franchise tag on Dont'a Hightower

Mike Giardi: Don’t think Patriots will use franchise tag on Dont'a Hightower

Mike Giardi discusses the odds that the New England Patriots franchise tag Dont'a Hightower and what he expects the Pats to get if they were to trade Jimmy Garoppolo.

Arizona Cardinals place franchise tag on Chandler Jones


Arizona Cardinals place franchise tag on Chandler Jones

PHOENIX - The Arizona Cardinals, in an anticipated move, have placed a non-exclusive franchise tag on outside linebacker Chandler Jones after failing to reach a long-term deal with the player.

The non-exclusive tag allows the Cardinals to continue negotiating with Jones through July 15. If another team makes him an offer, Arizona can either match it or receive two first-round draft picks.

It's unlikely that any team would express interest in Jones, however, given what it would cost.

Under the franchise tag, Jones would receive about $15 million for the coming season.

Acquired in a trade with New England a year ago, Jones had 11 sacks, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 15 tackles for loss last season

Jones has 25 1-2 sacks over the past two seasons, third-most in the NFL over that span.

The Cardinals' move came two days before the NFL deadline for making franchise designations.

It also came on Jones' 27th birthday, prompting teammate David Johnson to tweet "Happy BDay to `The Man,' `Mr. Franchise' himself.....The one and only."

The franchise tag move came as no surprise.

Club President Michael Bidwill has stated all along that Jones would not be going anywhere, that the team didn't make the trade - sending guard Jonathan Cooper and a second-round draft pick to New England - to keep him just for one season.

"We're not going to mess around with that," Bidwill said in a recent interview on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. "He's a great pass rusher, but if we can't agree to terms that work for us, we're just going to franchise him, and his people know that."

Jones immediately upgraded what had been an average Cardinals pass rush at best. His fellow outside linebacker Markus Golden had 12 1-2 sacks and seven tackles for loss. Together they form one of the better outside pass rush combinations in the NFL.

By all accounts, the contract talks with Jones have been cordial and Jones has said he wants to stay in Arizona.

"I love it here," he said near the end of last season. "I love the vibe that the people give off and I can see myself being here for a long time."

Chandler heads a long list of free agents that the Cardinals must either re-sign or let go. That group includes starters defensive tackle Calais Campbell, safety Tony Jefferson and inside linebacker Kevin Minter.