TAMPA -- It wasn't perfect, the main blemish a failure in blitz pickup, but running back Stevan Ridley was one of the bright spots for the Patriots in their 30-28 loss to the Buccaneers on Friday night.
The effort solidifies his standing as the team's No. 1 back entering the season.
"He's been a strong runner since the day he came in here, and he's continued to do that," quarterback Tom Brady said. "When he gets the opportunity, it seems like he's doing a great job, so that was great to see."
The 5-foot-11, 220-pound Ridley finished with a team-high 87 yards on 16 carries (5.4 avg.) and 1 touchdown. On the team's top two scoring drives led by Brady, it was Ridley ripping off some big rushes to spark the attack. He saw extended action when fellow running back Shane Vereen hobbled off late in the first quarter and didn't return.
"I had an offensive line that was battling out there, two fullbacks that were leading [and] trying to create some holes," he said. "I just hit it. When I see green grass, I'm trying to get out of there. I'm not the fastest guy in the world, but I'm trying to get as many yards as I can."
But there was one play Ridley admitted he'd like to have back -- failing to pick up the blitz on a second-quarter play that put Brady in danger.
"I missed one, I'll say that. I'll go and look at the film on that tomorrow and I'm sure Coach will have something to say on that," he relayed. "I have to improve on that."