The New England Patriots placed starting running back Stevan Ridley on the bench after his second fumble during yesterday’s game, and that miscue led to a long touchdown return by Buffalo Bills safety Da’Norris Searcy. There’s no denying Ridley’s talent as a rusher, and he put together an efficient game on the ground with 46 yards on nine carries. But the second fumble was a real back-breaker, and Ridley has had his fair share of ball security issues in the past. Shane Vereen came in and had an excellent game through the air and on the ground with over 100 rushing yards on just 14 carries, and it is fair to wonder if there is a potential running back “competition” brewing in New England.
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said, via the Boston Globe, that the Patriots have not made a decision on when they will play Stevan Ridley again. He said this of Ridley, “Stevan’s got to do a better job of holding on to the football. He knows that. And we’ll work hard with him on that.”
Ridley’s post-game quotes reflected a mood of reflection, disappointment, and determination, and Shane Vereen has Ridley’s back and believes he can bounce-back. I do, too, but Ridley is on an even shorter leash than usual and will really need to improve his ball security. The Patriots need him to continue to be a feature back for this club, because there are some opponents that a finesse rusher like Vereen won’t have success against.