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Stevan Ridley has learned: Fumbles are the quickest way off the field


Stevan Ridley began last season as the Patriots’ starting running back, but after a stretch in which he lost fumbles in three straight games, he was benched and didn’t start another game the rest of the year. Now he’s warning his teammates that fumbling has consequences.

“I told one of the young guys today, that’s the quickest way to get off the field,” Ridley said. “You can ask me first.”

The good news for the Patriots is that Bill Belichick’s decision to bench Ridley seemed to have the desired effect: As the Patriots’ backup running back for the final four regular-season games and the two playoff games, Ridley didn’t fumble a single time. And Ridley says he’s making it a major focus in Organized Team Activities to hold the ball properly.

“All you can do is really squeeze [the ball] high and tight,” Ridley said. “I think that was a lesson I had to go through and, hopefully, I won’t have to go through it again, but who knows? A little bit of adversity never hurts anybody. . . . When you lose focus on the small things — whether it’s small assignments, whether it’s carrying the football, whether it’s running a route, whether its blitz pickup — those are things that cost you your playing time.”

Ridley found that out the hard way last year, but he’s learned his lesson and may be back in the starting lineup this year.