|Stevan Ridley on fumble against Eagles: ‘I hated it, it was a sick feeling for a second’||08.18.14 at 7:28 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Stevan Ridley is sick of fumbling and tired of answering all the questions that seemingly come with it.
After having fumbling issues last season — to the point where he was even a healthy scratch for Week 13 against the Texans — Ridley once again put the ball on the ground in last Friday’s second preseason game against the Eagles.
Although the Patriots recovered the fumble and on a second-look it appeared he may have been down first, the fact of the matter is he fumbled once again.
“It’s too close to call, man. Either way, I need to avoid those plays in general,” Ridley said. “There’s nothing really else to be said about it. I hated it. It was a sick feeling for a second. We looked at the play, it is what it is, but either way one out is too many. But I’m not going to harp on that. I’m going to learn from it.”
The running back didn’t play a snap following the fumble — something all too familiar for the fourth-year running back out of LSU.
“When I go back and watch the play, and the ball is out again, Week 2, it kind of sucks,” Ridley said. “But it’s football, man, and I can’t get down about it. I can’t harp about it. That’s why you have preseason. I’m just going to keep on working and keep on pushing.”
Ridley was having a good game until the fumble as he finished with 45 yards on nine carries.
“I had a nice little workload early on, and I think the coaches saw what they wanted to see,” he said. “For me, I came on out when they told me to come out. Like I said, we’re moving on. This week’s Carolina. There wasn’t too much said about it — just get back to work, learn from your mistakes just like everybody else and keep on pushing.”
Even with the frustration of fumbling on a seemingly regular basis, Ridley is always there to answer the questions from reporters and understands where the questions are coming from.
|Bill Belichick on Stevan Ridley: ‘We never want the ball out’||08.17.14 at 12:50 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Here we go again.
It’s only the preseason but the question of Stevan Ridley and ball security has arisen once more.
On his seventh carry Friday night against the Eagles, Ridley ran off to his right, behind the right guard and just as he appeared to be falling routinely to the ground at the Philadelphia 10, the ball came out.
It was recovered by fullback James Develin so the Patriots managed to salvage the red zone chance and finished it off when Jimmy Garoppolo found Brandon LaFell in the back of the end zone.
There was some question as to whether it was a fumble at all as Ridley was close to having his backside on the turf when the ball came out when safety Earl Wolff stripped it out. But to head coach Bill Belichick, who has been down this road for the last three seasons with Ridley, whether it was down by contact was not the issue.
“We always talk about ball security, taking care of the ball. There’s nothing that correlates more to winning and losing than turnovers, so that’s always a high priority for us,” Belichick said in his Saturday conference call. “We never want the ball out and on the other side of the ball defensively and in the kicking game, we always try to get it out. Sometimes when we get the ball out, we don’t recover it or sometimes when we get it out they blow it dead but we always want to try to do that. The same goes true for the offensive side of the ball.”
Ridley came out of the game on what appeared to be his normal rotation but when he began to sprint on the field before the LaFell touchdown, he was called back and Brandon Bolden took his place. Bolden had two runs and rookie James White had another as Ridley was given time to consider his indiscretion.
“We don’t want plays where they end up with the ball, whether they’re ruled in our favor or not,” Belichick said. “Guys that have an interception in their hands but drop it or plays where the ball gets away from us, whether we recover it or it goes out of bounds or they recover it, those are all plays we’re trying to avoid, obviously. They do matter. So do the ones that, same thing on defense, the plays that we get out, we don’t get them all but the more we get them out, the more we’ll get, so they are significant.”
Ridley’s trouble with holding onto the ball is well-chronicled in New England. He has lost four fumbles in each of the last two seasons and was benched for the AFC championship and Super Bowl in his rookie season when he lost a fumble in the regular season finale and a playoff win over the Texans in Jan. 2012. Still, Ridley remains one of the most productive runners in the Patriots backfield, averaging 4.5 yards and rushing for 20 touchdowns in his first three seasons in New England.
|Sebastian Vollmer taking it ‘step by step’ in his return to the field||06.12.14 at 10:01 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Sebastian Vollmer is ready to put 2013 behind him. As a matter of fact, he admitted Thursday he’d rather not think about how it ended at all.
Who could blame him?
Anyone watching the Patriots and Dolphins on Oct. 27, 2013 on TV certainly will never forget how his season ended. The Patriots right tackle was moving outside to run block for Stevan Ridley when Dolphins nose tackle Randy Starks rolled up on his right leg. Sideline microphones picked up the yells of the 6-foot-8, 320-pound beast of a lineman who had just suffered a gruesome broken leg.
During Thursday’s OTAs, Vollmer returned and was moving freely with the first team offensive line, looking like a man ready to put the past in the past and leave it there. He even joked about being yelled at by coaches, a sign that he was indeed back and ready to put on the pads next week in mini-camp.
Whether he’ll be ready to take on the full load of a full training camp and be ready for the season opener against Starks and the Dolphins in Miami on Sept. 7 is another matter. And he’s more than ready to accept the reality of that deliberate pace.
“Let’s take it day by day,” Vollmer cautioned. “You work on some stuff every day in the training room, the rehab room, you know, on the field. You’re always working on something so you’re never there.
“Anytime you get hurt it’s not a good thing. You don’t really know what’s happening to yourself and take it step by step. You take it inside, talk to doctors and do what’s necessary and just work your way. It’s a strain. Every day you do rehab, you get better, you get stronger and all that stuff, looking forward. I’m back out here now and it’s a good moment for me.”
Vollmer felt from the moment he began to recover from surgery and begin his rehab program that he would be back on the field this summer, all along never doubting himself.
“No. I don’t think you should have that,” Vollmer said of skepticism and worry. “I trust our medical staff and rehab guys and we know we’re in good hands. You just have to do what they tell you to do. You have to work hard and I think that’s kind of what it comes down to.”
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.
“This 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.”
|As far as veterans are concerned, rookie QB Jimmy Garoppolo making the grade||06.09.14 at 6:00 am ET|
FOXBORO — It’s only been a handful of OTA sessions, but to this point, the Patriots veterans have been impressed with the work of rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
The consensus seems to be that he’s not only delivering the goods on the practice field — albeit in limited snaps behind Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett — but he’s fully aware of his place in the locker room hierarchy as a rookie.
“I’ll tell you, he shocked me, man,” running back Stevan Ridley said after last Thursday’s workout. “He came in [and] he seems confident. He is a rookie, though. Everybody’s going to make mistakes, but he’s quiet, and he has been working hard.
“I didn’t know too much about him, but as I watched him, I liked him the more I watched him,” Ridley added. “He’s what we expect out of a quarterback. You don’t say too much — you just take it in and do your job.’
In last Thursday’s practice session, the first action for Garoppolo in full view of the media, there were some good throws and some bad throws, including an interception on a ball picked off by linebacker Chris White. All in all, a rookie performance in the rain that was probably about par for the course for a young quarterback at this time of the offseason.
Garoppolo wasn’t made available to the media after the session, but some of the other offensive veterans acknowledged they have been impressed with the rookie, who has managed to emerge as an early leader among the first year players.
“The guy is pretty good — he’s got a lot of talent,” said wide receiver Brandon LaFell. “He’s a rookie, so he has a lot to learn. But he has a lot of potential. If he continues to work, he’ll be a good quarterback in this league.”
Wide receiver Danny Amendola had the chance to work out briefly with Garoppolo prior to the draft, and said that the rookie out of Eastern Illinois has impressed him as a “smart” player.
“He’s a smart player,” Amendola added. “I don’t know if they ran the same offense in college, but he’s picked up the system really well. I know he’s been putting in his time and his work getting in the books. He’s been doing good so far.”
In addition, Amendola added that Garoppolo has shown a nice command of the huddle, at least to this point.
“That’s huge. It’s one thing to throw the ball and make the plays on your feet. But to actually control 10 other guys and get them to where they need to be is a huge part of playing the quarterback position. He’s learning from the best [in] Tom and Mallett. He’s doing well.”
|With LeGarrette Blount gone, do Patriots need to add backfield depth?||03.28.14 at 9:30 pm ET|
The departure of LeGarrette Blount to the Steelers means there will be more on the plate of Stevan Ridley in 2014, who now appears likely to return to his role as the closest thing the New England offense has to a featured back. Meanwhile, Shane Vereen figures to work in a change up role as the third down option and pass catcher out of the backfield, and Brandon Bolden will stick in his role as all-purpose backup.
But is there a need to bring in another body for depth? While running back isn’t considered an overwhelming priority for the Patriots (there are other greater areas of need, at least at this stage of the team-building process), it wouldn’t be a surprise for them to address it with a mid-round pickup in the draft, especially considering the fact that the bargain basement has been pretty much picked over, at least at this point. (The best options right now are probably Andre Brown, Michael Bush and Justin Forsett, as well as broken-down editions of Felix Jones, Ronnie Brown and Willis McGahee.)
With the understanding that the Patriots would be targeting a guy like that no earlier than the third day of the draft because of other areas of greater need, here are three backs who might be available to the Patriots this year as mid- to late-round possibilities:
a) Storm Johnson, Central Florida – A multidimensional back who has already drawn the attention of the Patriots — the 6-foot, 209-pounder was one of a handful of players who went through a workout for the Patriots’ brain trust when they were in Florida this past week for the league meetings — last season he had 1,139 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground to go along with 30 catches for 260 yards and three receiving touchdowns.
b) Andre Williams, Boston College – Remarkably, the 5-foot-11, 230-pounder led the nation in rushing last year for the Eagles, ending up with 2,177 rushing yards and becoming a Heisman finalist as a result. At the combine, he fully acknowledged the fact that he needs to improve when it comes to his work in pass protection as well as a receiver out of the backfield, but his colossal yardage total from last year will almost certainly make him attractive to someone.
c) Bishop Sankey, Washington – A little on the smaller side, like Johnson, this 5-foot-9, 209-pounder offers value in the passing game as well as the running game. Last season, he ran for 1,870 yards for a 5.7 average and 20 touchdowns to go along with 28 catches for 304 yards and one touchdown.
Of course, this doesn’t begin to take into account what the Patriots do at the kick return spot in 2014. Blount’s departure could open the door for any number of possibilities on special teams, including Josh Boyce, Devin McCourty or collegian Jeremy Gallon, who had a private workout for New England special teams coach Scotty O’Brien earlier this week in Ann Arbor. While the different looks that the three backs present should be enough to keep opposing defensive coordinators on their toes in 2014, it’s clear the Patriots do need to address the position going forward, especially considering the fact that Vereen and Ridley are heading into the final year of their rookie deals. Certainly a spot to watch going forward this offseason for New England.
|Stevan Ridley: Darrelle Revis ‘can lock down one side of the field for us’||03.13.14 at 1:37 pm ET|
On how much better cornerback Darrelle Revis makes the Patriots: “I think he does what [Aqib] Talib did for us. Talib is an awesome player and to let him go for the betterment of him and his family, he had a big offer on the table. He had to take it. But coach [Bill] Belichick always comes through, he always has a backup plan and to pick up Darrelle Revis, that was one of the only corners I heard about coming up as a kid and watching football. He’s been around a long time and he knows what he’s doing. I think he can lock down one side of the field for us and do everything that we need him to do as a player. So to come in on a one-year deal, he’s going to have to earn it but I think he’s done that year after year. We’re going to be OK.”
On if he expects a rematch of the AFC Championship Game between the Patriots and the Broncos with all of the free agent moves Denver has made so far: “I can’t get too far ahead of myself. It’s going to take some work to get there but of course Denver is making major moves; they’ve signed some big names and made some great additions to their team, with Talib first. But for us, we’re going to have to play to get there. Once we get there, we know what we’re matched up against. They had a spectacular defense at the end of the year last year and they didn’t make any mistakes by picking up a few free agents to add to their dominance that helped them get to the Super Bowl.”
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