FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- One year removed from his last football game, running back Stevan Ridley sounded confident Thursday he will make his New York Jets debut Sunday. He didn't try to hide his emotions about the possibility of facing his former team, the New England Patriots.
"The story couldn't be written any better," said Ridley, who began practicing Wednesday after six weeks on the PUP list with a surgically repaired knee. "I'm fired up about it."
Ridley acknowledged he'd have extra motivation because the Patriots didn't try to re-sign him last offseason. He spent four years on the other side of the intense AFC East rivalry, but he's already talking like a grizzled Jet.
"I'm with a new team that's doing tremendous," he said. "We're not crowning anybody early."
Ridley played for the Patriots from 2011 to 2014, rushing for a career-high 1,263 yards in 2012. His touches decreased, and he suffered torn knee ligaments last October. The Patriots made no effort to retain him as a free agent.
"You can put it on the business; you can put it on whatever you want to put it on," he said. "It'll be in the bank for me as motivation."
With good depth in the backfield, the Jets (4-1) have been able to take a conservative approach with Ridley's return. But No. 2 back Bilal Powell might not play this week because of a sprained ankle, so there's a good chance the Jets will put Ridley on the game-day roster with Chris Ivory and Zac Stacy.
Coach Todd Bowles has remained noncommittal about Ridley playing, but it's definitely a consideration. Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey conceded the running back's burst "isn't quite there yet," but the Jets are hopeful it'll be close to normal after a full week of practice.
By rule, they have a three-week window to add him to the 53-man roster or put him on season-ending injured reserve.
Ridley conceded he's not 100 percent in football shape. He also said he's "not the magic piece to come in and push everybody to the side." The Jets don't need magic -- Ivory is the No. 3 rusher in the NFL -- but a pair of fresh legs always can help.
"I'm motivated because I'm going against my old team; I'm motivated because it's my first game back; and I'm motivated because it's a tremendous blessing to play in the NFL," said Ridley, who signed a one-year, $1.25 million contract with New York.
"Wouldn't you be [excited]? Hey, this is my first time on the field in a year, so I'm excited. I can't go into a game saying I'm going to sit on the bench. No, I'm ready to play."
Ridley said he's not surprised his former team, and quarterback Tom Brady in particular, are playing so well in the aftermath of Deflategate.
"Boston is a different place, and it starts at the top," he said. "Tom is a competitor. The attitude he comes in with, it trickles down throughout the roster.
"The attitude we're coming in with -- we haven't been there. We're hungry. We're not going to give anybody the victory early. Yeah, they're going to be fired up; a lot of people are talking bad about the Patriots. That's what makes football -- the fans. However you slice the cake, we're trying to get a win as much as they are. ... May the best team win."