It’s taken him awhile, but New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley is finally starting to find the form that he had in 2012.
Ridley was finally the featured running back last Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Josh McDaniels finally decided to give his young stud some serious totes, and Ridley rewarded his offensive coordinator with 26 rushes for 115 yards and two touchdowns. It was the most carries that Ridley had received all season, marking the third straight week in which Ridley has seen an increase in carries.
Ridley was once again showing impressive burst on his runs, constantly driving his legs and refusing to go down easily. One of his two rushing touchdowns featured this very technique as Ridley drove hard, spun to the opposite side and dove into the end zone.
There was one blip on the radar. Ridley caught a dump pass from Tom Brady in the flat but proceeded to fumble the football thanks to an impressive strip by Troy Polamalu. Even Bill Belichick went on to say that Polamalu made a nice play. That would mark the first time all season that Ridley was not punished for one of his mistakes.
With Ridley finally coming on, the backfield is starting to take shape for McDaniels. Ridley should lead the way in carries, getting a lot of early-down work. Then, when healthy, Shane Vereen can work as the receiving running back. And then LaGarrette Blount can come in and be the short-yardage/clock-killing running back.
If these guys are played correctly, then McDaniels will have a dangerous trio of running backs. Then again, Ridley could be benched for reasons beyond our understanding. Let’s hope that’s not the case.
Philip Alexander is a New England Patriots writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @steely0906, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.