BOSTON (CBS) — So here we are again at a crossroads with Patriots running back Stevan Ridley. This time, his fumble just crushed the Pats in the first half. He took the air out of the building and lost confidence in himself. Afterwards, he didn’t sound defeated but he did sound like he was looking for answers.

“For me, it’s almost disgusting, man,” Ridley said.  “Consecutive weeks … personally, as a player, my team deserves better. I come in, I work, bust my a– every day. To come in and have the same mistakes happen, there’s something I gotta do different, I gotta do better. As a competitor all I can do is come in here and keep working. … I just gotta be there for the team when they call me.”

That’s the issue right there. Stevan Ridley is a good back and the Pats need him. They need him to change the pace. All the backs have a role. Shane Vereen is the all-purpose back. LeGarrette Blount is the wear-down runner and Brandon Bolden is toughness with some speed. Ridley is tough in small spaces and he can break it. The Pats need that. He can’t continue to fumble.

Here’s the good news for Ridley: His teammates have vocally come out and said they have his back. Running back partner Vereen has called him special more than once. Bill Belichick has said all the backs need to find a away to get better ball security and Tom Brady understands the value of having Ridley in the mix.

“When I put the ball on the ground, they have no option but to take me out, and it’s sickening, honestly,” Ridley said. “I’m frustrated, but it’s part of the game. I think that as a player, you’re going to have your ups and your downs, but the main thing is you have to stay focused and keep your eye on the prize at the end of the day. I’m not going to get too far down. I’m going to put more pressure on myself to go out there and practice and change up some things, because I can’t keep doing this.”

With the temperature dropping, the Patriots are going to need Ridley on the field the rest of the way. It’s now up to him to learn how to hold onto the football, otherwise the only time he’ll see the field is in practice.

Follow Levan Reid on Twitter @LevanReid.



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