FOXBORO, Mass. — Tom Brady and the Patriots’ passing attack has taken center stage throughout the first two week of OTAs, but the pass-centric practices haven’t bothered running back Stevan Ridley.
Ridley is entering his second season as the Patriots’ feature back, and he’s preparing to carry the load even more than the 290 times he did in 2012. But, his role in the passing game could expand next season as well, especially now with Danny Woodhead gone, which is why he’s giving it so much attention this offseason.
“It’s really when you have to work on all your traits,” Ridley said of OTAs. “You come out here and know what the team’s focused on, what the coaches’ expectations are. So, you just have to come out here and catch the ball.”
Ridley didn’t have much of an impact as a receiver a year ago, managing just six catches on 14 targets and dropped two passes on the season. Dropping the ball has been a critique of Ridley’s since he entered the league as a third-round pick in 2011, as he became known for his penchant for fumbles. He overcame that issue as a running back in 2012, but now he’s really focused on making ball security a main priority in his game.
“We’re playing backyard football — pass and catch — and we have to do that.” Ridley said. “So, when the ball’s on the ground, they’re not too happy about it. So, they put an emphasis on it everyday in practice. We know what our jobs are and we come out here everyday and try to execute to the best of our abilities.”
Ridley caught quite a few balls on routes out of the backfield during Wednesday’s practice. He also motioned out along the line of scrimmage and lined up as a wide receiver at times. That seems like a role better fit for his backfield counterpart Shane Vereen, but Ridley is still preparing himself for the possibility.
“I can do it as much as they want to put me out there,” Ridley said. “You just have to go out there and execute, like I said. They can put you out there, but if you don’t execute you won’t be out there that much.”
Ridley was on the field quite a bit for the Patriots in 2012, and he’ll be ready for even more work this season, even if it means having a more active role in the passing game.
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