Stevan Ridley opens up about his benching: ‘I put myself there’
|12.26.13 at 2:39 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Stevan Ridley had politely declined to speak about his Dec. 1 benching for the last several weeks. On Thursday, the third-year running back felt it was finally time to open up.
“I just really believe this: God will never put you through anything more than you can handle,” Ridley told reporters in a five-minute session that appeared at times to double as a self-counseling session in front of his locker. “For me, it wasn’t what I wanted, but I know why I got there. It’s not like coach just woke up and decided, ‘Hey, let’s bench Stevan Ridley today.’
“I put myself there. For me, it’s about not letting your past mistakes hold you down. I think life brings you that. You’re going to have adversity, you’re going to have stuff that you’re going to go through. But it’s how you bounce back from it as a person.”
Ridley then made a point of assuring that his four lost fumbles this season, two of which have been returned for touchdowns, hasn’t diminished his love of playing, and playing with fellow running backs Brandon Bolden, Shane Vereen and LeGarrette Blount.
“I love what I do. I love the sport I play in,” he said. “God put me here. For me, I can’t sit on the past, whether it’s success or whether it’s something I don’t want. For me, it’s focusing on these upcoming weeks because I think if we finish this year the way we want to finish this year, nobody will remember what happened in the past. It’s going to take a total team effort. And it’s not just about me, it’s about the running back room, in general, being strong, whoever the number is back there. Whether it’s Shane, whether it’s Brandon, whether it’s Blount, whether it’s me, whoever it is, we have to be accountable and we have to go out there and be a strong point for this team.”
Ironically, one of those two fumbles came against the Bills in Week 1 in Orchard Park when Ridley’s second-quarter cough-up led to Da’Norris Searcy‘s 74-yard return for a score, allowing the Bills to jump back in game after trailing New England 10-0. He’ll get a chance to make amends on Sunday.
“Hold on tight, that’s all I can tell you because there’s no magic words, there’s not one thing I can do,” Ridley said. “I can’t change the player that I am. I just have to go out there and play ball. Honestly, I just spent a lot of time on my knees praying about it, talking to a lot of the people that I knew are close to me. The bad times will pass, too, just like the good ones. It’s all in the past. These upcoming games we’re trying to be mistake-free and if we can be mistake-free it definitely gives us the upper hand and the better chance of winning the ballgame. And that’s all our coaches are trying to do. There’s no hard feelings. I’m just trying to win every game from here on out, the Bills included, and that’s our team’s focus right now.”
Ridley also said he had conversations recently with two people who gave him words of encouragement as well as an attitude adjustment – Kevin Faulk and his high school coach from Mississippi.
“Faulk met me down in Texas,” Ridley said of the trip to Houston when he was benched. “I got to talk to him for a long time and told me some things I needed to hear. I also got to talk to my high school coach, David King, down in Natchez [Mississippi]. I just talked to the people who I knew had my best interests in mind. Regardless of what it was, I’m just focused on what it’s going to be from here on out.”
Does he feel that he has to prove himself again to the coaching staff, including Bill Belichick?
“Of course, getting your playing time cut and being benched and being on the sideline isn’t anything that anybody wants to go through so you have to battle back,” Ridley continued. “But it’s nothing that’s going to be given to you. You just have to go out there and work every day. I can only control what I can control. When they call my number, I have to go out there and be a solid player. Being a solid player is also not making small mistakes that are very costly. Regardless of the good that you bring to the game, mistakes will also cancel that. For me, you have to grow from this and move on.”
Since his benching, Ridley has seen his playing time steadily increase. After a pair of eight-carry games against Cleveland and Miami, Ridley ran the ball 15 times for 54 yards on Sunday, including five times on a nine-play drive that put the game away late in the fourth quarter, ending with a LeGarrette Blount seven-yard TD run.
“It’s better than being on the sideline, I will say that,” Ridley said with a smile.