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Stevan Ridley’s priority: ‘Hold the ball, man’

09.16.13 at 5:55 pm ET

FOXBORO — Stevan Ridley acknowledged Monday he has to do a better job when it comes to ball security. The Patriots running back, who lost one fumble in the opener and was benched for the rest of the game as a result, has now fumbled the ball six times in the regular season and twice in the playoffs over the course of his career.

He said Monday afternoon it’s clear what his priority is going forward.

“Hold the ball, man,” he said. “Holding the ball. I’ll start with myself and say that.

“But it’s a lot of work we have to do. That’s the thing — it’s early in the year, man. It’s early in the year, so nobody is going to be perfect. We just have to come in here and keep our nose in the dirt and keep grinding. That’s all that we can do, is take it one day at a time, one week at a time, and not get too far ahead.”

Ridley, who finished last season with a career-high 1,263 rushing yards, is off to a slow start this season with 86 yards on 25 carries. He said Monday he’s not happy with where is at this point in the season.

“Absolutely not. I don’t think anyone on this team is happy with where they are, starting with myself,” he said. “I definitely didn’t get off to the start that I wanted — I’ll man up and say that. For me, I’ve got to do better for my team. Also, this team has got to work that much harder. We don’t put the blame on anybody. We’re a unit and it takes 11 of us out there — that’s who has to stick together if we plan on improving in the coming weeks.”

Ridley is part of a New England offense that has gotten off to an uncharacteristically ragged start through the first two games of the year. Without tight end Rob Gronkowski (who has missed both games) as well as wide receiver Danny Amendola and running back Shane Vereen (both of whom were sidelined for Thursday’s game against the Jets), the Patriots have struggled to move the ball consistently. While the Patriots are 2-0 after two games, they’re averaging 18 points per game. That’s a considerable dropoff from the league-best 34.8 points per game they averaged last year.

“We’re not scoring as many points as we’d like to either,” he said. “For us, it’s a struggle, man. We’re going into Week 3. Like I said, I din’t think any football team in the league is where they want to be right now. That’s not making any excuses for us — that just tells us we have to come in here and work a little bit harder and try to fix the things we missed up this past weekend. That’s why it’s a week behind us — we have time to prepare for what’s coming up. And hopefully improve and get better.”

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