Ridley looks to eliminate fumbles

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Entering the second year of his NFL career, Patriots running back Stevan Ridley has one area of his game he wants to improve most: eliminating fumbles.

Putting the ball on the ground late in the season likely played a part in Ridley’s decreased role during the Patriots run to an appearance in Super Bowl XLVI, and the 23-year old is using his rookie season as a lesson.

“You look back and you learn from your mistakes,” he told reporters after the opening day of the Patriots’ mandatory mini-camp. “Two fumbles on the ground you can’t have, but this is a new year, you can't live in the past, but you should have to remember what you did that took away that plan. For me its just coming in trying to start new, start fresh and just come out here and work hard.”

Ridley admitted that fumbling is the “worst thing” a running back can do on the field, and acknowledged that it’s an issue that nobody wants to have.

As for the remedy to the issue, Ridley has narrowed his focus to fundamentals with the football in his hand.

“For me, it’s just going to be holding onto the football high and tight, focusing on that and just keep doing what I’m doing. Just playing this game the way I do, the way I know how to do it.”

He hasn’t resorted to anything out of the ordinary to improve his ball security, such as sleeping with a football, but referenced that carrying a football around at all times can provide some benefit.

Ridley also finds himself in the midst of what looks to be a compelling running back competition, one that includes fellow 2011 draftee Shane Vereen, and old friend Joseph Addai, who he has regularly trained with in Baton Rouge, La. in the past.

He spoke about the competition while also stressing the camaraderie of the group.

“Everybody wants to be that guy, but nobody knows who that guy’s gonna be,” he said. “The way we’re going to approach it, prove it out there and be the best we can be as a unit. I think that’s how coach Bill wants us to do, is play as a team. It’s not going to be our call who starts, it’s going to be our job to go out there and do what he asks us to do, and he says to do our job, and that’s what we’re going to do as a unit.”

For now, Ridley isn’t focused on whether the starting role is his to assume, instead focusing on his own hard work.

“I wouldn’t say it’s my time, because I’m not the coach, I can’t make that call. It’s my time to go out there and work hard, I know that,” he continued. “I know I’m going to have to go out there and bust it everyday if I want to hit that playing field, so I will say that that’s what it is with my time. To be my time, to be the guy, no I’m not going to say that at all. I’m just going to go out there and work hard everyday."