By Levan Reid, WBZ-TV SportsBy Levan Reid

BOSTON (CBS) – As we all expected this off-season, Stevan Ridley has blossomed nicely into the Patriots‘ number one running back.

The second-year back is currently fifth in the NFL in rushing yards with 490, and tied with a handful of players for fifth on the touchdown list with four scores. His feet, along with Brandon Bolden’s, have the Patriots rush offense ranked third overall in the NFL, averaging 165.4 yards per game.

“Hard work,” Ridley summed it up to.

And the Pats’ backs won’t let all that work go to waste. Don’t expect them to rest on the fact they’ve had two solid weeks on the ground this Sunday in Seattle.

“For us, we can’t take two steps forward and a step backwards every week,” Ridley said. “We have to keep building on what we improved on the previous week. For us, it’s about moving forward and doing what we’re doing. The last two weeks have been in the direction we want to move in, so for us, we’re just trying to go the right way.”

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While the numbers look great for Ridley, the only question was — and still is — can he hold on to the rock?  The last two games he’s had fumbles (only one of which the Patriots lost) and last week’s hiccup could have cost the Patriots the game.

Thankfully it didn’t, but Ridley felt bad after the game. He made no excuses and knows he needs to hold on to the rock.

And we all know head coach Bill Belichick feels the same way.

“We work on ball security with every player that handles the ball. Every week. Every day,” said Belichick. “That includes everybody that touches the ball. Center. Quarterback. Running backs, receivers, punters, kickers, snappers, returners, defenders when they get it if they happen to get it on a turnover. We talk and work on ball security every day with everybody. Everybody who handles it, it’s important. It’s the highest priority with everybody.”

Read: Pats-Seahawks Tale of the Tape

Things won’t get any easier this Sunday in Seattle. The Seahawks defense is atop the NFL — tied with the Patriots — with nine forced fumbles. While Seattle has only recovered four of them, Ridley knows he’s going up against a hard-hitting D that will be aiming to pry the ball out of his hands.

“They’re very athletic,” Ridley said of Seattle’s defense, who have given up just 66 rush yards per game so far this season. “They have guys that come downhill fast, they’re moving up front, they’re secondary are good tacklers –they’re a great defense against; both run and pass.”

Read: Mike Hurley’s Week 6 NFL Picks

Follow Levan Reid on and on Twitter @LevanReid all Patriots’ season long!

Tune in to the Sunday’s Patriots-Seahawks game at 4pm on 98.5 The Sports Hub and WBZ-TV. Patriots GameDay kicks of WBZ’s coverage at 11:30am, with 98.5′s Patriots Preview beginning at 1pm. Following the game, tune in to 3-hours of post game coverage on The Sports Hub, and Patriots 5th Quarter over on MyTV38!


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