FOXBORO — Stevan Ridley has been around just two seasons now in the NFL, but he knows one Bill Belichick  mantra as well as anyone: Next man up.
“It’s called a team for a reason,” Ridley said when asked how the team will fare without Rob Gronkowski . “Gronk is a vital part but we have other teammates that have to step up and get the job done. That’s what we’re going to try and do the best we can as a unit. So, for us, we just have to keep playing football. We have a bunch of games left. We hope Gronk recovers quick and he’ll be back as soon as he can.”
Does Ridley expect a bigger role?
“Coach is going to call the plays, put in the personnel and we’re going to roll, man,” he said. “So, they’re going to make the adjustments, do the job and we’re going to go out there and play football.”
Whatever the role, Ridley knows this will be a challenging week, with the Jets at MetLife Stadium on Thanksgiving night.
“Just have to bounce back,” Ridley said. “We have a few quick days of practice and before you know it, we’ll be on a plane and be in New York so we just have to get to business.”
Ridley had just 28 yards on 13 carries Sunday, an off-day for the running back who was on pace for 1,400 yards before a sub-par performance against the Colts.
“Just keep playing hard, keep playing hard and keep working hard,” Ridley said. “Some games it’s going to be there, some games it’s not. We’re playing a professional sport here. So, for us, we just have to keep working. I think the run game will come around. It’s been fine all year. Those guys are working hard for me up front.”
The run game could be big again this week as the Jets are ranked 30th in the NFL, allowing 142 yards per game on the ground but just 342 overall.
“Great defense,” Ridley said. “They’re known for their defense. They’re going to come in there and play hard. It’s a rivalry and we’re going to play ball.”
The Patriots were able to put up a franchise record-tying 59 points without their two starting guards as Logan Mankins  and Dan Connolly  were out last week. But Donald Thomas and Nick McDonald stepped in.
“You have to get in there and step up when you can,” Ridley said. “When you get your opportunities, you have to make the most of them, whoever you are, whatever position you are, you have to make the most and do the job for the team. You’re going to have some guys go down from time to time but different guys have to step up, and that’s what we had, two guys step in there and do the job.”