Earlier this offseason, some of us were raving at how New England Patriots feature back Stevan Ridley looked like a buffed up monster after hitting the weights hard and gearing up for a season of more high carries. In the Patriots fast-paced offensive attacks, even running backs who aren’t on the field for 50% of the team’s snaps still get around 300 carries, and Ridley bulked up to prepare for another season of pounding the ball of the middle for more big, hard-earned yardage. But apparently the Patriots didn’t want Ridley to lose any quickness and ability to bounce to the outside, as he lost that weight.
Ridley told the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe, “I had to cut a few pounds, but nothing major.”
It sounds like Patriots running backs coach Ivan Fears had a lot to do with the return to normalcy in Ridley’s playing weight, and it looks like he didn’t like the way Ridley was running during minicamp due to his new build. Ridley must have lost too much quickness for the coaching staff’s liking, and that loss of quickness could have severely hampered Ridley’s ability to get to the outside and make things happen there. One of the reasons why Ridley is such a successful back in this league is his ability to pound of the yardage inside or take it to the outside for a quality gain.
Not only did Ridley want to gain weight and an incredible amount of muscle mass in order to carry the rock at least as often as he did last year, but the Bernard Pollard hit that caused Ridley to suffer from a concussion was also some motivation. The Patriots and Fears, however, believed that gaining weight wasn’t the best move for Ridley as a back overall, and you have to agree with them if they noticed a drop off in play and conditioning from Ridley in minicamp.
Stevan Ridley also made the rounds yesterday for bad reasons after fumbling the ball twice yesterday, and it’s just a reminder that Ridley does have ball security issues. Those issues do get overplayed at times, but they are definitely real and something to be aware of; they’re just sometimes exaggerated and don’t undermine his overall ability as a rusher.
Howe adds that the added muscle in Ridley’s build was on a “trial basis”, and it looks like Ridley is right back to his playing weight and ready for another big season.