FOXBORO (CBS) – Patriots second-year running back Stevan Ridley has a lot on his shoulders this season.

Entering Thursday night’s preseason game against the New Orleans Saints, Ridley is atop the Patriots depth chart when it comes to the running backs. He played in all 16 regular season games last season, totaling 441 yards with a touchdown.

But his biggest concern is fumbling.  He fumbled in the regular season finale against the Bills, and did so again against the Broncos in the playoffs. After that, he didn’t touch the ball the rest of the way to the Super Bowl.

Read: Levan Reid’s Patriots Blog

This season, Ridley has actually changed the way he carries the ball.  He says holding on to the rock has to be a premium.

“The ball can’t be on the ground,” Ridley said Wednesday. “That’s no secret. Fumbles will have you on the bench.”

He’s getting the reps and the snaps with the first team.  Now he just has to find his comfort zone.

“I’m a little bit more comfortable out there,” Ridley said of his second season. “Am I perfect? Not by any means. I still have a lot of work to do. Over time, my carries and my reps on the field have increased, but it’s still a long way to go and there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

Read: Pats-Saints: What To Watch For

Ridley will have company in the backfield, with Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead and the undrafted Brandon Bolden all vying for carries. But if he can cure his fumbleitis, the starting job should be his for the season.

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