New England Patriots feature back Stevan Ridley was punished by the team for fumbling issues, which have marred Ridley’s success as a rusher for quite some time now. Most of those concerns have been exaggerated, but the Patriots felt the need to punish Ridley rather harshly for putting the ball on the ground twice two weeks ago against the Denver Broncos. Ridley was inactive last week against the Houston Texans, as the Patriots basically suspended Ridley for one game for fumbling.
Over the past two weeks, I’m sure Ivan Fears and the rest of the coaching staff has worked closely with Ridley in order to help him secure the ball better and work on better fundamentals. There is plenty of optimism that Ridley can quickly turn things around and secure the ball better without losing much in the form of effectiveness. I have full confidence in Ridley going forward, and the Patriots know that they need Ridley in order to fulfill their Super Bowl aspirations. They are much better team and have a much more balanced and effective offense with Ridley running the ball, as Ridley is one of the most talented rushers in the league (he has almost the full package for a workhorse back) and strikes fear in opposing defenses.
Adam Schefter, MassLive.com’s Nick Underhill, and the NFL Network’s Albert Breer have all reported that Stevan Ridley is expected to play today against the Cleveland Browns, but none of them have any idea as to how much he’ll be used. My guess was that the Patriots will ease Ridley into things and play him extensively once they feel safe that Ridley has truly improved his ball security.
Thanks to CBS Sports’s Jason La Canfora, we now know much more about what the Patriots will do with Ridley. Per La Canfora, the Pats will give the Riddler the ball in the second quarter, and they will give him a bigger workload “if he plays well” and proves to the Patriots that he has improved his ball security. If this happens, then the Pats will have confidence in using him as their feature back again going forward. Hopefully, that’s exactly what happens.