One can only imagine the stress Stevan Ridley is under.
The New England Patriots running back has followed up a tremendous 2012 season with another good season, averaging 4.3 yards per carry with seven touchdowns. But his carries are way down this year. That's because he fumbles.
Ridley has lost four fumbles this year, and now has a reputation. He has lost a fumble in each of New England's last three games. A fumble against Carolina led to about two full quarters on the bench. After a fumble against Denver, which was returned for a touchdown, he didn't see the field the rest of the game.
The Patriots aren't going to put up with Ridley's fumbles, no matter how talented he is. This kind of thing has to weigh on Ridley constantly ... which also might be part of his fumbling problem.
Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe had a fascinating interview with Ridley in which he opened up about how much the last fumble has stuck in his thoughts.
“Ahh . . . it has, and I think it will be on my mind until I get back on the field Sunday and I try to redeem myself,” Ridley told the Globe. “Right now, at this point in time, it’s just manning up and accepting your mistakes and improving on them, and for me, I thrive on going out there and when people are doubting you, you have to go out there, and for me, I like to prove doubters wrong.
“And that’s the biggest thing that you have to do in this game, is you have to fight through adversity, and it’s not always going to be glitter and gold, so for me it’s just, I have to keep my head in it and lean on the people I know love me and trust me and also know what I can do."
It has become such a problem that former Patriots running back Kevin Faulk, who overcame a fumbling problem early in his career to become a productive NFL back, reached out to Ridley to give him some words of advice and encouragement. He said he told Ridley he needs to figure out what to change, and fast.
“I told him, ‘Don’t think about not fumbling, think about, how can I hold onto the ball? This isn’t college, this is your job," Faulk told the Globe. "You have to figure out what’s going on, because if you don’t, you’re going to be out of a job.’”
That's the scary part for Ridley.
He is a tremendous player, and while some recent stars like Tiki Barber, Ahman Green and Adrian Peterson overcame early-career fumbling issues, it's hard for teams to keep a player around if he keeps giving the ball to the other team.
"I can’t make light of the situation that is obviously an issue, but am I going to start believing that I have a fumbling problem and that’s something I can’t overcome? Absolutely not," Ridley said.
“It’s a mistake, it’s something that I messed up on, but that’s why I say it’s going to show ultimately how much of a man I really am because I have to overcome this. I have to get better from this. And if I don’t improve, it’s going to cost me my job down the line and I don’t want that.
“I’ve come too far in my career and worked too hard. I have to be conscious about it and set my head on it that I’m not going to let those same mistakes happen again."
Hopefully Ridley doesn't make those mistakes again, or we might not see him that much over the rest of this season.
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