|Stevan Ridley on the Ravens defense: ‘They know how to play the game’||09.19.12 at 2:31 pm ET|
FOXBORO — When Stevan Ridley looks across the line of scrimmage on Sunday night, he’ll see a familiar face looking back at him. The 23-year-old Patriots running back will see veteran Ravens’ linebacker Ray Lewis, someone who broke into the league in 1996 — when Ridley was seven years old.
“You have to know where he is every time he’s on the field,” Ridley said of the 37-year-old Lewis. “He’s smart, man. He’s physical. He knows the game. He’s played that position as long as I’ve been watching football, so he’s someone I’ve been watching since I was a kid.”
But that doesn’t mean Ridley can be in awe of Lewis, despite the fact that the linebacker is bound for the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.
“I have to go out there and treat [him] just like another linebacker — he’s a player, he bleeds, sleeps, just like I do,” Ridley said before practice on Wednesday. “This team is just going to go out there and play our game, We’re going to do what we want to do and we’re going to play ball, hardnosed, just like we’re supposed to.”
Ridley and the rest of the Patriots’ offense are preparing for a typical matchup with Lewis, Ed Reed and the rest of the Ravens’ defense: a physical showdown against one of the smartest and most battle-tested units in the league.
“They have some strong players who have been there for a long time. They know how to play the game,” Ridley said. “It’s going to be a hard-fought, physical game. For us, we’re just starting the day on Wednesday. It’s the first day we have to get on the practice field. We’re going to try to get our keys, make our reads, and do our assignments. We’re going to try and play Patriot football.”
The Patriots are coming off a surprising 20-18 home loss to the Cardinals, a game where Ridley finished with 71 yards on 18 carries and the team as a whole ended up with 90 rushing yards. The LSU product, is looking to lead the running game back to the levels it enjoyed in Week One, where the Patriots rushed for 162 yards (125 of which came from Ridley) in a 34-13 win over the Titans.
“When they call my number, I have to go out there and make a play,” said Ridley, who has 196 rushing yards through two games. “Our offense is going to get back on track. We had a tough loss last week, and we can’t sit on that. We’re going to prepare for the next game, and that’s what it is for us. It’s Week Three, early in the season. We can make any jump or get upset or anything like that. We have to play football. And we’re going to keep plugging away, just like we do every week.”
In the wake of the defeat, several players indicated that one of the reasons for the loss was a bad week of practice.
“This week, I guess they’re putting a little bit more emphasis on [practice] because it’s the Ravens and that defense has a lot of tradition, a lot of playmakers on it,” Ridley said. “But around here, it’s pretty much the same standard, in and out of each week: We’re coming out going to work and we have to work hard.
“That’s football. We do this for a living. For us, we have to come out every day and be prepared. Be alert. Be sound. And go out there and practice our assignments so we can go out there and make the right reads and the right plays for our team.”
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