Brady backs benched RB Stevan Ridley

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady pumped up running back Stevan Ridley on Tuesday, putting his support behind the third-year veteran who was benched after his second-quarter fumble in the season opener.

“I know Stevan is a very mentally tough kid. I love having him back there. I love giving the ball to him and watching him run,” he said.

Brady also pointed out that Ridley wasn’t the only player to make a mistake Sunday.

“We fumbled a snap on the goal-line, I threw an interception; you have to be able to bounce back from those things,” he said. “Football is not necessarily a game of perfect. It’s just that you try to limit what your bad plays are, so they’re not really bad plays, or really critical plays in the game.”

How Ridley bounces back Thursday will be watched closely. With running back Shane Vereen (wrist) expected to be out of action for a few weeks, and running back Brandon Bolden (knee) missing the season opener, depth is thin at the position and Ridley could be thrust right back into his top role.

Ridley, who after Sunday’s season-opener took the blame for his performance, politely declined comment in the locker room Tuesday.