Patriots

Ridley answers to fumbling hubbub

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Ridley answers to fumbling hubbub

FOXBORO -- A lot is being made of Stevan Ridley and fumbling.
He's done it twice.
In his rookie year, the running back fumbled once in Week 17 and once the next week (this one lost) in New England's playoff matchup with Denver. He didn't play again in 2011.
There was a great deal of hand-wringing from fans. Probably too much. 'When would the kid learn to carry the darn ball?' they cried.
Huh?
A lost fumble in the playoffs is a bad play, but how did it turn into a "ball security issue"? Ridley, at least, sounds confident and ready to move on.
"You look back and you learn from your mistakes. Those two fumbles on the ground you can't have. But this is a new year. You can't live in the past, but you certainly have to remember what you did that took away that playing time. For me, it's just coming in here trying to start new, start fresh and just come out here and just work hard."
Remember, Kevin Faulk fumbled six times in his sophomore season, 2000.
So is it the standard set by BenJarvus Green-Ellis that made Ridley a leper last year? Probably. It was beat into our brains that The Law Firm had 562 runs, receptions, and kickoff returns without a flub. That's a four year streak of perfection.
All the more impressive because Green-Ellis fumbled 10 times in college and went undrafted. His NFL perfection was projected by no one.
Yet it seems, on the outside, Ridley bears some burden of Green-Ellis' legacy. When asked what could be learn from the former Patriot, he laughed.
"Try to be perfect, because he was perfect. You know what I mean? Sometimes it happens. You can't make excuses for the ball being on the ground. Benny was very fortunate to have the career that he had. That's all I'm going to learn from him is to just hold onto the ball, squeeze it high and tight, and bring it back to the huddle after every play."
Ridley said fumbling is "the worst thing" a running back can do. Which is fair. He said ball security is the most important improvement he can make to his game this offseason. Also fair.
Just be wary when you hear Ridley's ball security called "an issue."
Especially in terms of stacking the competition -- and there's plenty of it. Fellow LSU alum Joseph Addai, with whom Ridley trains each summer, is ripe to take several snaps. The list fills out further with Danny Woodhead's usual work, the yet unrealized potential of Shane Vereen, and promise of Brandon Bolden.
It's not likely two fumbles will keep Bill Belichick from making Ridley his Number One back. There could be five or five hundred other problems in addition to ball security that keep the kid's butt on the bench, but we haven't seen any yet.
Ridley will wait patiently to see if he's tapped.
"Everybody wants to be "that guy", but nobody knows who that guy's going to be. The way we're going to approach it go out there and just try to be the best that we can be and we mean it. That's all Coach Belichick wants us to do, is play as a team. It's not our call who starts. It's our job to just go out there and do what he asks us to do."

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

None of us thought Johnson Bademosi would be starting this past Sunday at MetLife Stadium against the Jets because -- well -- that’s not what we perceive the 27-year-old to be. He’s a special teamer. It’s how he’s made his mark in the NFL dating back to 2012 with Cleveland. So why would that change in mid-October for a team he’s only been with for six weeks? Because Bademosi is -- and has always been -- intent on proving he’s more than a niche player.

“I see myself as a football player,” he said, “and whatever position they put me in, I’m going to try to be the best because that’s how I operate and who I am as a person. Whether that’s as a cornerback, on special teams, if they ask me to play wildcat quarterback. Whatever…”

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Bill Belichick and his staff asked for Bademosi to go on the field and not come off. He played 73 defensive snaps in addition to his usual core four special teams duties. 

“I felt like I played a whole game,” Bademosi joked, before saying, “I love playing football so I’m going to go out there and empty myself.”

He did just that, getting targeted only two times in the 24-17 win over the Jets. It was hoped that Bademosi would return to his normal specialist role, but with Stephon Gilmore still out with a concussion, it now seems more and more likely that the sixth year pro will have to be an ironman again Sunday night in primetime against the Falcons. Historically, the Pats have defended bigger receivers. That means Bademosi may be responsible for one of the most dangerous players in the league, Julio Jones.

“He’s an amazing player," he said. “We all know what he’s capable of. As a defense, we have to be prepared for him.”

The Pats were on Super Bowl Sunday and Jones still made a couple of ridiculous plays with either Logan Ryan or Eric Rowe in coverage with safety help over the top.

“He’s fast. He’s physical. He can jump. He can run. He’s smart. He’s everything you want in a wide receiver,” said Bademosi without blinking an eye. That’s the kind of confidence you want from a player at that position and facing this type of challenge. 

“You gotta believe in yourself,” he said “ I’m confident in my abilities. I work hard and trust my preparation.”

Being an elite athlete certainly helps. Bademosi was a scholarship football player at Stanford -- “some guy named Jim Harbaugh called” -- before ending up in the NFL. But it’s Bademosi’s willingness to go all in in the film room that impressed safety Devin McCourty. 

“…I think, honestly, the most work he did was probably with just himself jumping into the film, watching more stuff to exactly see,” said McCourty Thursday. “You know, when you’re a backup more, you’re kind of trying to see everything because you don’t know what role you might be thrust upon once you’re in the game. But, I think once he knew he was starting, it was kind of like, ‘Alright, let me focus in on this.’ I thought he did an awesome job of just being ready and competing.”

Bademosi will have to compete his ass off Sunday night, even against what has been to this point a physically compromised Jones. Based on what he did several days ago, there’s no reason to believe the Pats cornerback won’t bring everything he has, trying to prove again that he’s more than just a special teams whiz.

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