MCT FILE PHOTO — Former Trinity Episcopal and LSU running back Stevan Ridley fights for yardage in the Tigers’ game against Tennessee last season. Ridley was drafted by the Patriots with the No. 73 pick in the 2011 NFL draft, but is unable to negotiate a contract or work out with the team due to the labor negotiations currently taking place in the NFL.

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Ridley in NFL limbo

Published 12:01am Friday, May 27, 2011

NATCHEZ — Stevan Ridley was in Natchez Thursday trying to take a break from the post-draft hoopla and check out the historic Mississippi River flood.

But that won’t last long, as the former Trinity Episcopal and LSU running back is doing whatever he can to prepare for his NFL career despite the labor negotiations currently preventing him from officially working out with the Patriots.

New England selected Ridley with the No. 73 pick of the 2011 NFL draft, but contract negotiations cannot proceed with the works stoppage currently in effect for the NFL.

“Right now, no one can talk to coaches or staff or anyone,” Ridley said. “There are no contract negotiations going on. All you can do is look at where you were drafted and determine about what your income is going to be.”

In fact, Ridley said he just barely got the chance to meet his New England coaching staff before the no communication rule went into effect.

“I flew up to Foxborough, (Mass., the day after I was drafted) in hopes of getting a playbook,” Ridley said.

“We just barely got to meet the coaches and get to know them before they passed the rule that said we could no longer have any contact with coaches.”

Despite not getting to discuss football matters with his coaches, Ridley said he enjoyed the visit. Former Arkansas Razorback quarterback Ryan Mallett, who was selected by the Patriots right after Ridley with the No. 74 pick joined him in Foxborough.

“He’s a cool guy,” Ridley said of Mallett. “He’s been a rival for the last few years, but he’s a great quarterback who resembles Tom Brady.

“I’m not saying he’s going to be the next Tom Brady, but he has a similar build, and if he takes the time and learns from the best quarterbacks in the league, he could be a very good quarterback in the future.”

After the Foxborough visit, Ridley said he’s split time between a family vacation in Tampa and at LSU working out.

“I (also) went to Los Angeles for the team photoshoot right after I went to Foxborough,” Ridley said.

“Since the draft, I’ve been everywhere, nonstop, so I’m taking the time to get some rest. I got a new car, and I’m probably going to stay through (today).”

Ridley said it helps having LSU strength and conditioning coach Tommy Moffitt overseeing his workouts.

“He’s one of the best in the business, so there’s no point going anywhere else,” Ridley said. “I’m on the same strength schedule as LSU — it’s what I’ve been doing the past four years.”

Ridley said he’s grateful for all the support he’s gotten from Natchez, and that he’s continuing to stress putting the city on the map.

“There are a lot of people excited to see someone from here represent my home town,” Ridley said. “Everyone’s just fired up for my career.”

Ridley said he’s having a crawfish boil in Baton Rouge Saturday at Bogies restaurant. He’ll also be signing autographs at the crawfish boil.