With a new NFL season beginning, some are looking for a new opportunity to prove just what they are. None pops into my head more than Stevan Ridley who has struggled holding onto the ball throughout his career with 9 fumbles in three seasons and two more in the playoffs and it’s run thin with me. If it were up to me Ridley wouldn’t have made the cut, but since he is here’s some things to watch.
A promising running back is nothing if he can’t hold on to the ball. For me, Ridley’s touches should be limited this season because it’s obvious there’s a disconnect there when it comes to possession as in he doesn’t get it.
The Patriots obviously feel the same way as he’s third on the depth chart behind a first year guy James White. Vereen isn’t a terrific runner and that has worked to Ridley’s favor, but if I’m honest, I don’t see Ridley making it to the end of the season. Once you’re known as a fumbler, defenses will target that heavily and the road back from his three-season-long first impression is much longer than the leash he is on.
It’s a small and overlooked story-line, but Ridley will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season along with Shane Vereen. Brandon Bolden will be a restricted free agent. The only running back currently on the roster that is under contract after this season is James White. When Ridley was asked if hard times leave him better off he responded how you might expect:
“One-hundred percent,” Ridley said. “I’ve learned a lot over the four years. What I have learned is you have to leave the past in the past. This year is a new year, new opportunity. And I always said a little bit of adversity never hurts anybody.”
The problem I have is he matched his regular season high for fumbles two straight seasons in 2012 and 2013. Clearly he hasn’t learned and that position has little leeway in my mind. There’s a short leash and then there’s the leash I have Ridley on. It’s one fumble and cut. I may be in the minority, but no running back is worth giving the ball away, even if he averages 4.3 yards per carry.