Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Brandon BoldenStevan Ridley enters the 2014 NFL season with plenty to prove.

The New England Patriots running back took a step back last season after breaking out in 2012, and as he prepares to begin the final year of his rookie contract, his mind is set on giving the team a reason to keep him around.

“Three words, man: It’s a business,” Ridley told the Boston Herald on Sunday. “It’s a business, and I’ve learned that. But at the same time as a player, I’ve got to handle my business. However you want to take that, however you want to spin it, that’s what I’ve learned in my four years as a New England Patriot — that I can only control what I can control, so don’t put my future in other people’s hands. Don’t give the coaches a reason to sit you. Don’t give the coaches a reason not to play you.”

Ridley gave Patriots head coach Bill Belichick plenty of reasons to stick him on the sidelines last season, as fumble-induced benchings and the emergence of LeGarrette Blount limited the LSU product to 773 rushing yards one season after posting a career-high 1,263.

Ridley’s focus now is proving to Belichick & Co. that he deserves carries over fellow fourth-year back Shane Vereen — who also is in a contract year — Brandon Bolden and a crew of newcomers, including 2014 fourth-round pick James White.

“For me, I just come in with work first on my mind, and I refuse to be outworked regardless of who they bring in there,” Ridley told the Herald. “It could be Boobie Miles for all I care. It doesn’t matter. I’m going in there, and I’m going to work every day. That’s what I’m trying to teach these young guys, and I guess that’s me trying to be a leader. One thing about it is we’re going to come in here, and we’re going to work every single day — if we’re tired, if we’re healthy, if we’re hurt. If we’re on the field and we’re between the chalk, we’re going to get it done. That’s all I try to do, and I can’t really worry about the rest.”