Stevan Ridley is a simple man. He's not needy like many running backs in the NFL tend to be. He's not focused on the number of touches, rushing yard totals or touchdowns. Rather, he's only keeping an eye on one statistic: the win column.
As the Patriots' third-round pick in the 2011 NFL draft, Ridley wasn't expected to produce all that much. But he surprised as the season carried on with a few breakout performances, showing off both his strength inside the tackles and speed on the outside. Those performances were enough to convince Bill Belichick and the Patriots staff to let incumbent starter BenJarvus Green-Ellis walk in the offseason and saddle their hopes on Ridley's legs.
Now just days after Ridley proved his supporters right with 125 yards and a touchdown in New England's Week 1 win against the Titans, the simple kid from Natchez, Miss. isn't letting the success get to his head.
"I can't keep looking at the past," Ridley said of his success. "I enjoyed it the day that it happened. I had a lot of support, my family was there, but that's over with. I've got to get onto Arizona and focus on the upcoming week."
Ridley understands that the Patriots may be looking to establish more of a ground game than they have in years past, and that with his hardnosed running he'll likely be a big part of that change in philosophy. But even with the early success, he's staying grounded in the reality of his role in the offense.
"For me I'm just trying to go out and do my job," Ridley said. "I'm not trying to be superman or anything over the top."
While the 23-year-old firmly believes in his abilities as a runner, he understands that there is much offensive talent on the Patriots roster and he's just one piece of a much larger puzzle.
"We've got tight ends, we've got receivers, we've got one of the best quarterbacks, if not the best quarterback. An offensive line that's working hard and a group of young running backs that [are] trying to come in and get it every chance we get," Ridley said of his offensive unit. "When you have a hungry team that's working together, good things come from it."
Ridley may not repeat his 125-yard outing every week, or again this season for that matter. But those numbers won't concern him as long as one figure continues to grow.
"At the end of the day you're just trying to go out there and get that W," Ridley said.
A true team player, Ridley's role is bound to fluctuate with each passing week this season. But, luckily for the Patriots, his focus will remain the same.
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