FOXBORO, Mass. — After a 1,000-yard season in 2012, it appears that Stevan Ridley is going to be the bell cow running back for the Patriots in 2013. But the third-year player knows not to take anything for granted in the NFL.
The Patriots traded Jeff Demps and a seventh-round draft choice for another 1,000-yard back, LeGarrette Blount, back in April. Ridley is walking the fine line between competing with Blount and keeping his new teammate motivated to be the best he can be.
“The first day that you come out here thinking you deserve something, that’s the day you start taking a step back,” Ridley said. “We just have to motivate each other. He’s coming in here trying to play just like I am and just like everybody else is on the field. You just have to work hard and outwork your competitors.”
Ridley and Shane Vereen have had to walk that fine line since coming in together in 2011. The two players are very close, but it seems they may take on different roles in 2013. Ridley’s role became defined last season, while Vereen will likely take Danny Woodhead‘s place as a third-down/change-of-pace back.
Blount would appear to be direct competition for Ridley, though. Neither player has much experience catching the ball out of the backfield.
“He’s another back,” Ridley said about Blount. “At 250 pounds, what doesn’t he bring? There’s a lot of power in there. For him, he’s just learning one day at a time. As a unit, we’re sticking in there. Me, Shane, LeGarrette, Brandon Bolden, we’re sticking in there. Akeem [Shavers], the new guy that’s there, we’re all just trying to learn as much as we can. … We just have to help [Blount] out when he starts to struggle and the same for me. We’re all gonna have days where we’re gonna have our difficulties, but we just have to keep pushing.”
The unit will certainly miss Woodhead, but if Vereen can stay healthy, the Patriots’ rushing offense could once again be one of the best in the NFL. And some healthy competition never hurt anyone.