Ridley not complacent as starting running back

Published 12:01 am Sunday, September 8, 2013

Trinity Episcopal and LSU alumnus Stevan Ridley goes through drills during the New England Patriots’ training camp in early August. Ridley is entering his third season in the NFL as a running back for the Patriots. (Courtesy of new england patriots | David Silverman photo)

Trinity Episcopal and LSU alumnus Stevan Ridley goes through drills during the New England Patriots’ training camp in early August. Ridley is entering his third season in the NFL as a running back for the Patriots. (Courtesy of new england patriots | David Silverman photo)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass — Stevan Ridley enters year three in the NFL with a crowded backfield for the New England Patriots.

But the former Trinity Episcopal Day School and LSU standout running back said he has no problem sharing the load with the team’s abundance of running backs.

Ridley is listed as a starter on the Patriots’ website at running back, with players like Brandon Bolden, Shane Vereen and LeGarrette Blount also expected to get carries. The Patriots acquired Blount from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason.

“We’re just that much deep,” Ridley said of New England’s running back situation. “I’m playing with the best quarterback in the game in Tom Brady, so our job is to run the football successfully and be three-down backs.”

Blount, in particular, can play that role at 6-foot-0, 250 pounds, Ridley said.

“He can run between the tackles and pick up blitzes,” Ridley said. “As far as having a guy back there to grind it out, it’s awesome. No one man can get the job done. No matter how good you are, you always need people to help you. When you have another 1,000-yard back in the backfield, that’s someone you need to respect.”

Ridley said he realizes there are bigger expectations as he enters year two as a starter, but he’s not letting things get to him as the Patriots gear up to play the Buffalo Bills today.

“I can’t make it any more than it is,” Ridley said. “I just have to go out there and play ball. We’re playing Buffalo (today), and they’re a team we’ve had success against in the past, but that doesn’t mean Buffalo won’t come out ready to play.”

Ridley said he spent training camp trying to improve himself as a player.

“I have to try to get better every year,” he said. “If I can do things differently to maybe try and improve my role on third down situations, that’s one way I can grow.”

When Ridley suits up today, he won’t be the only former Miss-Lou standout on the field. Former Franklin County High School and Southern Mississippi linebacker Jamie Collins is listed as a second-team linebacker for New England. Collins, the Patriots’ second-round pick in this spring’s NFL Draft, has already made his presence known, Ridley said. The Patriots didn’t have a first-round pick in the draft, so Collins was the first player taken by New England.

“Coach (Bill) Belichick likes players from our area I guess,” Ridley said. “It’s pretty awesome having him on the team. He’s a linebacker who can do it all — he can make a tackle or shift into coverage. As our top pick, he comes in with a lot of responsibilities, but he’s done an exceptional job with the roles they’ve asked him to do. We’ll lean on him heavily.”

The Patriots recently released quarterback Tim Tebow, whom they brought in prior to minicamp as a quarterback. Ridley said Tebow was a great person, but the roster was too crowded for a third-string quarterback.

“Our quarterbacks are Tom Brady and Ryan Mallet, and those are two special players,” Ridley said. “Nothing was going to be given to (Tebow), and ultimately it didn’t work out. But he was a good guy, and I wish him nothing but the best.”

The Patriots will take on the Bills at noon today.