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Patriots trying to keep Ridley’s confidence up

New England Patriots v Jacksonville Jaguars

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 23: Stevan Ridley #22 of the New England Patriots is tackled by Paul Posluszny #51 of the Jacksonville Jaguars during the game at EverBank Field on December 23, 2012 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

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The Patriots have proven they need Stevan Ridley.

But he had to prove he could hang onto the ball first.

After coughing it up three times in his previous two games, Ridley kept a firm grip on his responsibilities last week against the Jaguars.

“That’s what we had to focus on, because of the couple turnovers we had, starting with myself,” Ridley said, via Michael Whitmer of the Boston Globe. “We focused on that, and that’s what we have to do. When we carry the ball, we have to carry it back to our offense. We can’t turn it over, we can’t have fumbles.”

Ridley said extra attention was placed on ball security, both in practice and the film room. While they’ve pulled him from individual games (such as when Danny Woodhead replaced him during the 49ers game), they keep going back to him for a reason.

With 1,189 yards and 10 touchdowns, he’s clearly the most explosive threat they have in the backfield, and last week’s closer-than-expected win over the Jags was used to build him up. He got the ball on the first six rushing plays, proof that they believe in him, or that they want to.

“When you look at issues, whether it be ball security or pass protection or the ability to run the ball outside or whatever the issue may be, there is always a reason,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said. “Our goal is to try to give the player enough resources and enough instruction that he might be able to effectively improve that situation, that issue, if it exists.”

It clearly exists, but they’re clearly choosing to work through the issue rather than just putting him in the doghouse.