New England made Ridley the 73rd overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft, selecting him in the third-round, after taking running back Shane Vereen in the second-round.
As a rookie, Ridley played in 14 games, averaging 5.1 yards per carry and 31.5 yards per game. In his second season, the LSU product was handed the rock 290 times, rushing for over 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns. It appeared as if he would be the franchise running back for years to come.
But thanks to fumbling woes, things have changed. Ridley lost his starting job to LeGarrette Blount early in the 2013 season. He finished the year with 178 carries, 773 yards and seven touchdowns. While Blount's regular season numbers were similar, 152 carries, 772 yards and seven touchdowns, he enjoyed 16 carries in week 16 against Baltimore, 24 rushes the following week, during a downpour against the Bills, and in the Divisional round of the playoffs, Blount again got 24 carries. In those three games, the 6"0, 250 lb, back went for two touchdowns in each of the regular season games, and then exploded for four touchdowns against the Colts.
But Blount is in Pittsburgh now, and the role of lead-back is once again Ridley's. It is no surprise that the Patriots have opted to wait until they see how this season plays out to discuss an extension with their fourth-year running back. It is also no surprise that Ridley enters the 2014-15 campaign with a large chip on his shoulder.
According to Albert Breer, a motivated Ridley has shown up lighter, faster and is focusing on fixing his fumbling woes.
Three-time Pro Bowler and 2005 First-Team All Pro, Tiki Barber weighed in on Ridley during a Thursday appearance on Middays with MFB. "He is a hell of a player and he has every opportunity to be one of the greats, but he has to correct the things that give people pause about putting him in the game.” You can listen to the full interview here.
Looking to atone for an underwhelming 2013 season and entering a contract year, Ridley has the chance to make 2014 a special one for both himself and the Patriots. It all starts with holding on to the football.
Be sure to tune into Patriots Beat every Sunday at 1 pm, for the freshest takes on all things New England Patriots. Last episode, Jeff Kane and Bob Snowdon discussed whether or not Tom Brady is still elite: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/clnsradio/2014/06/08/patriots-beat-is-tom-brady-still-elite-ota-postion-battles