Ridley readies for Super Bowl

Published 12:21 am Sunday, February 5, 2012

Patriots rookie running back Stevan Ridley sits down with SirusXM radio during Patriots Media Day Tuesday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis during the week leading up to Super Bowl XLVI. The former Trinity Episcopal and LSU standout has had a productive season for the Patriots, recording 441 rushing yards on 87 carries with an average of 5.1 yards per carry. He expects to play today. (Courtesy of the New England Patriots)

INDIANAPOLIS — Stevan Ridley described it as a journey he’ll be able to talk about for the rest of his life.

Tonight, the former Trinity Episcopal and LSU running back will suit up for the New England Patriots as they take on the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI. For the Natchez native, making it to the Super Bowl in his rookie season is hard to describe, Ridley said.

“It’s really been a blessing,” Ridley said. “To be a rookie in the Super Bowl, it’s quite unbelievable. I’m trying to take in and embrace the moment, but I have to focus, because if we don’t come away with the win, this victory won’t be as sweet.”

Even with all the hype surrounding the biggest game of the year, Ridley insisted he and his teammates haven’t taken any different approach as far as game preparation.

“Nothing’s really changed but the building we’re in,” Ridley said. “We meet early in the morning until lunch, then hit the field from noon until 3, and again from 3 to 5 or 6.

“It’s really a full day, but we’re running the same program, just like we would a regular game. That’s what Coach Bill (Belichick) is saying — focus on it like it’s just another game and try to block out all of the distractions.”

Ridley said he’s expecting to play today despite having been on the inactive roster against Baltimore two weeks ago. That was presumably because Ridley fumbled in the final regular-season game against the Bills and in the playoffs against the Broncos.

“You can go back to Pee Wee football — if you put it on the ground, they’re going to take it out of your hands,” Ridley said. “It’s just a learning process; it’s nothing to hang your head about. I just have to take it in stride and try not to make the same mistakes.

“I’m just thankful to get another chance to get on the field and redeem myself in the biggest game of the year.”

Ridley said there have been a lot of adjustments to make when playing professional football, especially when it comes to his position and how the Patriots use their running backs.

“It’s a really complex system (the Patriots run),” Ridley said. “You have to come in and put in time and learn it. The team has a lot of chemistry, and they expect their backs to do certain things. Right now they’ve given me the playbook to learn so they can plug me in with certain roles. It’s just been a process.”

But Ridley said the biggest adjustment to pro football for a lot of his fellow rookies is the amount of meetings the team has.

“I’m used to it from LSU, but a lot of people don’t realize that it’s really a 9 to 5 job,” Ridley said. “There are a lot of meetings. That’s the biggest transition that a lot of people aren’t used to.”

But Ridley said the LSU staff did a great job preparing him for what to expect.

“I know a lot of people will say I’m crazy for this, but my hat’s off to Coach (Les) Miles,” Ridley said. “LSU runs their system a lot like the Patriots do.”

Ridley said he’s thankful for all of the support he receives at home, from his mother, family, the Trinity family and everyone else that crosses his path.

“I’m very proud to say I’m from Natchez,” Ridley said. “Every time I come home it’s love from everyone. It’s amazing to be able to represent and put a bullseye on my hometown.”

As for the game itself, Ridley said it’s going to come down to whether the Patriots’ offensive line can stop the Giants’ potent defensive line.

“Our offensive line knows that,” Ridley said. “If we can give (quarterback Tom) Brady the time he needs, he can pick apart any defense. We have to be balanced on offense. If we can do that, I think we can do something special.”

And Ridley said getting a chance to play in the Super Bowl is something he’s wanted to do his entire life.

“Every guy that plays football plays because they’ve seen this game,” Ridley said. “It’s really just surreal; it hasn’t hit me just yet. But I’m trying to go out there and not play like a rookie.

“I don’t know how many reps I’ll get, so I just have to go out there and play like a veteran that’s been there for 10 or 11 years.”