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Stevan Ridley: No lingering effects from head injury in AFC title game

05.02.13 at 5:43 pm ET
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FOXBORO — For Stevan Ridley, a terrific season ended on a sour note when he was knocked out of the AFC title game against the Ravens. The running back — who rushed for 1,263 yards in the regular season — suffered a head injury which left him sidelined in the waning moments of the loss to Baltimore.

In the wake of the injury, Ridley says he’s been able to shake off any lingering effects of what happened and move full into the offseason.

‘€œNone at all, man,” he said Thursday when asked if there were any lingering effects from the head-to-head collision. “Just good sleep and trying to get back on the field. I thank the Lord that I’€™m healthy and brought me back. All I can do now is move forward from that. But it was a nice hit that I took. Just got to shake it off. Comes with the game.

‘€œIt wasn’€™t pretty at all. It was one of the worst [hits] that I took in my life, [but] it comes with the game,” he added. “I love the game and I love football. I mean, it’€™s going to happen sometimes. But you got to roll with it. Adjust it. Make sure you’€™re squared away with your doctor, squared away with your team. I’€™ll be out here this year ready to go.’€

Ridley finished the season seventh in the league in total yardage, and came within 10 carries of becoming the first Patriots running back to hit 300 carries since Corey Dillon in 2004. That sort of workload helped bring some real balance in the New England offense, but also meant that Ridley needed to make sure that he caught up on his rest over the last couple of months.

“It’s always good to get a break,” he said. “For us, being in the playoffs the last few years, our break is a little bit shorter than others. But when you take that time, you have to take at least three or four weeks to take time for yourself and visit your family — step away. Once you get back up here it’s 24/7. We’re back on the clock. Once we’re back up here, we’re excited to be here and excited about a new year and a fresh start. So, some time off doesn’t hurt anybody, but we know it’s time to get back to work now that we’re here.

Coming off his first 1,000-yard season, Ridley is looking to build some consistency, and become the first running back Bill Belichick has ever had that’s been able to string together back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.

“I’m just still grinding. I’m happy,” he said. “Some things went well for me and the team. It worked out for me. But for the future and what’s coming up, you just gotta keep working. You know you can’t just do it one year. You’ve got to keep … be consistent with your production. We’re just gonna keep working hard. I’m gonna keep following my teammates and challenging each other and trying to put us in the best shape we can be in.”

One thing that will be different for the Patriots’ ground game in 2013 is the removal of popular veteran Danny Woodhead (who signed a free-agent contract with the Chargers) and the arrival of veteran LeGarrette Blount (who was acquired in a draft weekend deal with the Bucs).

Ridley was clearly sad to see Woodhead go, but eager to get the chance to work with someone like Blount.

“Oh, man — I’ve talked to Woody I’d say three or four times since he left here. You hate to see the guy go like that, but it was the best move for him. It was him and his family. But we’ll stay in touch and we can get across the country and see each other when we need to,” he said of Woodhead.

“You’re looking at a guy who is 260 pounds, a powerful runner,” he added when asked about Blount. “You’€™re looking at a guy who is coming in here to a stable of backs. We just had lunch, just talked a little bit, and now we’€™re excited about it. ‘€¦ The job is not going to be given to anybody, you got to work to get it. With us four in there, I think all four of us can contribute.

“We’ve got a group of guys that are working hard here, and some younger guys and guys that are hungry to play. So, we’re excited about it. Each year holds a new thing and for us, this year we lost a leader but we’ll battle back and just work hard and stick together.”

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