Ridley makes strong first impression

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Ridley makes strong first impression

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn

FOXBORO First impressions have a way of sticking around for a long time.

New England Patriots rookie Stevan Ridley hopes that old axiom holds true to form after an impressive performance in the New England Patriots' 47-12 preseason win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In a Standing Room Only-like backfield, Ridley's play stood out from the rest on Thursday night.

He led the rushing brigade for New England with 64 yards on 16 carries, which included a pair of touchdown runs. Known as a powerful, hard-running back at LSU, Ridley showed that he can be a factor in the Patriot's passing game as well.

In addition to his rushing numbers, he also had 7 catches for 47 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown.

"I just go out there and be a football player," said Ridley, selected by the Patriots in the third round of this past spring's NFL draft. "I'm just doing what the coaches ask me to do. They want me to be a downhill runner. That's what I'm going to continue to do. If that's what this team needs me to do, that's what I'll continue to do."

But with so many talented players in the backfield, Ridley is out to prove that he can help the Pats in other areas as well - like the passing game.

When you look at the scouting reports on Ridley coming out of college, there was very little mention of his ability as a pass-catching threat coming out of the backfield.

Against Jacksonville, Ridley took the first step in answering any lingering questions about his hands.

"God has blessed me, just to get out there and be able to have a lot of talent, just to get out there and do a lot of things; catching the ball and running," said Ridley, who had 11 touchdown receptions as a junior at LSU. "Try to be an all-around back. I'm nowhere close to perfect. I just have a lot of work to do."

Not surprisingly, coach Bill Belichick agrees.

While acknowledging that Ridley did have "some good runs and "a couple good catches," Belichick saw areas in need of improvement as well.

"Routes, pass protection, couple run-reads that didn't look . . . we'll see how it looks on film," Belichick said. "It looked like he ran hard."

Running hard and with power has never been much of an issue for Ridley, who left LSU after a junior season in which he had 1,147 yards on the ground along with 15 rushing touchdowns.

But in his short time in the NFL, Ridley has seen enough to know he has a lot to still learn.

And the NFL lockout didn't help.

At a time when he would have been working with veterans and learning the playbook, Ridley, like the rest of his rookie class, have essentially been learning on the playbook on the fly while at the same time, trying to digest it enough to where they're just out there playing and not thinking so much about playing.

It puts a greater premium on surrounding him with sound veterans such as Sammy Morris, who tells CSNNE.com that Ridley has been one of the many rookies to ask lots of questions of the Patriot veterans.

"They're always asking, and we do our best to make them feel welcome in asking us," said Morris, a 12-year veteran. "Going back to this year being a different season compared to others (because of the lockout), it's going to be tougher for the rookies having not ever seen an NFL playbook or an NFL defense or anything. But not just him, all our rookies, they're doing a good job of trying to learn what they can, making adjustments and being coachable and talking to a lot of the vets as well."

And while Ridley's strong performance in his first NFL game certainly gives him every reason to feel confident moving forward, by no means is he putting too much stock in it.

It was a preseason game against a Jacksonville team that, like the Patriots, rested a number of key players.

Preseason or not, Ridley refuses to get too high about his play.

"I'm not satisfied," Ridley said. "I'm sure the coaches aren't, either. I'm going to continue to work hard every day and try to do my best and help this team improve and get better."

Which is the kind of lasting impression that bodes well for him as well as the Patriots.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.

Patriots represented at Stanford, Utah, Missouri pro days

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Patriots represented at Stanford, Utah, Missouri pro days

The Patriots had a busy day of gathering intel on Thursday. A very busy day. 

While Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia represented the Patriots at Ohio State and Notre Dame, respectively, the team had other representatives at high-profile pro days around the country including Stanford, Missouri and Utah. 

Here are a few of the players the Patriots were able to get a better look at . . . 

Stanford: The Patriots have shown plenty of interest in players coming from David Shaw's program in the past (Cameron Fleming, Jordan Richards), and they'll undoubtedly appreciate the talents brought to the table by two of the school's projected first-rounders in Solomon Thomas and Christian McCaffrey. Thomas is a powerful 6-foot-3, 273-pound defensive lineman who can play just about anywhere up front. McCaffrey, meanwhile, is one of the most athletic running backs in this year's class. He worked out as a receiver on Thursday and could fill a multitude of roles as a pro, whether it's as a back, a slot receiver or a kick-returner. The Patriots would need to trade back into the first round to have a prayer at landing either player. 

Utah: The Utes have a handful of draftable offensive linemen and one who is expected to come off the board in the first round. Garrett Bolles, who lit up the combine, might be the top tackle available -- and there are those who believe he's just starting to tap into his potential. Isaac Asiata is a monster guard (6-3, 323, 34-inch arms) who put up more bench-press reps than any other offensive lineman at this year's combine, and center JJ Dielman is an intriguing later-round option. One of the quickest risers in the pre-draft process? Marcus Williams, who is an eye-popping athlete. He was top-five for those at his position at the combine in the vertical, broad jump and three-cone drill, and he looks like a ready-made NFL free safety. The Patriots are pretty well stocked at that spot, but if they're picking at the bottom of the first round and going with the best player available, they may very well think that's Williams. 

Missouri: Defensive players were in focus for scouts and coaches at the Tigers pro day, and Charles Harris was the headliner. One of the most impressive players within a very deep class of edge defenders, the 6-3, 253-pounder appears to have the quickness and burst to give NFL tackles fits. One of Harris' teammates up front, Josh Augusta, ran a pretty ridiculous 40-yard dash Thursday, clocking in just a shade under five seconds. Ridiculous, why? Because he's a defensive tackle who wighed 390 pounds during the season. That's moving. Augusta dropped down to 347 after being diagnosed with a thyroid issue in January and is looking to get to 335. Corner Aarion Penton can competes well for the football, but his size (5-9, 177) may scare teams off until late in the draft. 

Curran: Patriots, Darrelle Revis have not discussed deal

Curran: Patriots, Darrelle Revis have not discussed deal

The Patriots and Darrelle Revis have not discussed a deal that would bring the cornerback back to New England, according to CSNNE's Tom Curran.

This comes after CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported multiple anonymous NFL executives were convinced Revis would return to the Patriots.

Revis spent one season with the Patriots in 2014 when New England won Super Bowl XLIX. However, the Patriots did not pick up Revis' second-year option in the following offseason, and he elected to sign with the New York Jets in free agency. He played 14 games in 2015 and 15 games in 2016. He finished last season with 53 tackles, five pass deflections and one interception

The 31-year-old cornerback declined significantly during the 2016 season. Even Tom Brady said he noticed Revis was struggling phyiscally in the Patriots' Week 12 win over the Jets.

"I know he's not feeling great," Brady said in November. "I could see after the game, he winced a few times getting up. It looked like his leg was bothering him a little bit. But he's still very close on a lot of those plays. Even though you're hitting them, he's still very competitive.

"He's been one of the great players in the league for a long time. He's given up more plays this year than in the past, but you've gotta have a lot of respect for his style and his game."