Stevan Ridley, ball security back in focus

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley played 16 snaps Friday night in the team's preseason victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. His final snap was one in which he was ruled to have fumbled the ball, with the Patriots recovering.

That Ridley's night was over at that point in the early second quarter might have been part of the plan all along based on his workload. Or it might have been a déjà vu of the doghouse that Ridley found himself in last December when he was benched for ball-security struggles.

Either way, one of the disappointing aspects of the Patriots' otherwise fairly solid offensive performance was that the words "Ridley" and "fumble" were once again being spoken in unison.

Asked about the play Saturday following his review of the coach's film, Patriots coach Bill Belichick acknowledged "it was close." Ridley's knee might have been down as safety Earl Wolff ripped the ball free.

Still, that doesn't seem to be enough to spare Ridley accountability for losing his grasp of the ball.

"We always talk about ball security, taking care of the ball. There is nothing that correlates more to winning and losing than turnovers," Belichick said Saturday. "That's always a high priority for us. We never want the ball out. ... The plays where the ball gets away from us, whether we recover it or it goes out of bounds, or they recover it, those are all plays we're trying to avoid obviously. So they do matter [when grading the play]."

As Ridley came back to the sideline, he kept his helmet on and stood next to running backs coach Ivan Fears, who looked less than pleased.

Now we'll wait to see if there are further repercussions with Ridley's opportunities this week. If that is the case, the primary beneficiaries figure to be rookie James White and third-year veteran Brandon Bolden, who the team turned to exclusively in the ensuing plays after Ridley fumbled.

First-year player Jonas Gray and rookie Roy Finch are also on the running back depth chart, and they seemed to take advantage of their opportunities Friday night.