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Tiki Barber on MFB: Stevan Ridley ‘has every opportunity to be one of the greats’

06.12.14 at 3:11 pm ET
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Former Giants running back and current CBS Sports Radio host Tiki Barber joined Middays with MFB on Thursday to discuss the fumbling issues of Stevan Ridley and Jets rookie Calvin Pryor‘€™s comments about the Patriots. To listen to the interview, go the MFB audio on demand page.

Ridley has been one of the most productive running backs in the league over the last two seasons, rushing for 2,036 yards and 19 touchdowns in 30 games. However, Ridley has been plagued with fumbling issues, losing the ball eight times over the same 30-game stretch.

Barber stated that working on mechanics and strategy over the offseason will help Ridley solve the problem that put him in Bill Belichick‘€™s doghouse for most of last year.

“€œThis is what worked for me: It was showing a concerted effort in the offseason to correct whatever the problem is, and his problem is unfortunately the same one that I had — an inconsistency of holding onto the ball,”€ Barber said, adding: “The way you get out of people’€™s doghouses is to show a concerted effort to fixing the problem and then executing it day in and day out when people aren’t watching.

“The only way that the fans and media are going to care and let this go is if when the games start happening, when preseasons starts happening, it doesn’t become an issue at all.”

Barber continued: “I’ve always said this about sports. It’€™s train, train, train … so that when you get into the moment, you don’€™t have to think about it and you can just trust. So for Stevan and for any guys that are having issues with ball security, it’€™s about mechanically changing your mind in the offseason when there’€™s no pressure to do it, because when you try to do it at the moment of game day … there’€™s no chance. You have to train yourself when there is no pressure, so that when there is pressure, you don’€™t think about it.”

While Barber noted that Jim Fassel, his coach from 1997 to 2003, was usually lax on penalizing him whenever he fumbled, the same couldn’t be said for current coach Tom Coughlin, who regularly sat Barber whenever he turned the ball over. Barber ultimately said that he prefers the strategy taken by coaches like Coughlin and Belichick because of the learning opportunity that comes with it.

“€œI had it both ways. I actually appreciated the Tom Coughlin way more, because it forced me to get better and it forced me to become a complete player, as opposed to, ‘€˜Well, I’€™ll just figure it out on my own and I know my job is safe.’€™ That leads to complacency, and in the NFL and really any sport, if you get complacent, then you need to be replaced,” Barber said. “I hope, and I think, that coach Belichick is taking that exact stance with Stevan Ridley, because he is a hell of a player and he has every opportunity to be one of the greats, but he has to correct the things that give people pause about putting him in the game.”

Pryor, the Jets rookie, made headlines on Friday for expressing his hatred toward Tom Brady and the Patriots, a move that Barber found entertaining.

“He did himself a lot of favors in the Jets locker room and with the media and the fans around New York and New Jersey. … It is a little premature, because he is still a rookie that still has so much to do, but I don’€™t hate that. I actually love that,”€ Barber said. “€œHe’€™s one of these guys who will literally run through a wall for you, and you need that kind of mentality on teams. … I don’€™t mind it.”

For more Patriots news, go to the team page at weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Giants, Patriots, Stevan Ridley, Tiki Barber
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