BOSTON (CBS) – After Stevan Ridley watched yet another football come out of his grasp on Sunday against the Denver Broncos, his fourth lost fumble this season, the 24-year-old turned to a former Patriot who was among the best at holding onto the ball.
On Tuesday, Ridley placed a phone call to three-time Super Bowl champ Kevin Faulk. In 13 seasons with the Patriots, Faulk lost just eight of his 11 fumbles. The veteran struggled early in his career, much like Ridley, losing six fumbles over his first two seasons in the NFL. He didn’t fumble the next two seasons before losing three more in 2003, but Faulk ended his career with five straight fumble-less seasons, paving his way as one of the more reliable runners (and pass-catchers) out of the Patriots backfield.
Faulk, who retired in 2012, spoke to the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe about his talk with Ridley, saying he hopes a few words of wisdom can help the young Patriots rusher.
“It was good,” Faulk said of the chat. “I can’t tell you about the conversation, but I can tell you as a person who has been in the situation, I just try to get him a better understanding of where he was as far as what he needs to do going forward. Hopefully something I said would be something that would be familiar to him that he would recognize what he needs to do.”
“It was just a fact of me understanding who I was as a runner, what I had to change in order to maintain [the ball],” Faulk said. “I can tell you one thing. After a while, I never switched the ball. I always kept the ball in my left hand. That was just one thing, but there are a lot of different things that just take practice and practice. Not just practice on the field, but it takes practice off the field, not thinking about it, not mentally getting yourself disturbed about it.”
Faulk is concerned with Ridley’s mentality after seeing the disheartened back slam his helmet on the ground after Sunday’s fumble, and advised him to control what he can control in any situation.
“Like I told him, you really have to be mentally in tune. Some things may have to change. I’m not saying everything has to change, but something has to change because obviously that something is happening,” he said. “We can say it’s a funk, but we still have to pay attention to that funk and take care of that funk.”
The Patriots placed a major emphasis on ball control at practice on Wednesday, and Ridley was the first one through the line each time. Ridley has fumbled in each of the last three games, with two of them being returned for touchdowns.
Ridley has found his way to the bench after each of his gaffes, and he did not see the field after his fumble on Sunday. It’s unclear if he’ll be back on the field or on the bench when the Patriots take on the Texans in Houston, but if Faulk’s words of advice can help him hold on the to ball, Ridley could be back to being a key contributor in the New England offense.
Tune in Sunday to Patriots-Texans on 98.5 The Sports Hub and WBZ-TV — the flagship stations of the New England Patriots. Pregame coverage begins on the Sports Hub at 10 a.m., with Patriots GameDay kicking off WBZ’s coverage at 11:30 a.m.. Tune in for three full hours of postgame coverage following the game on 98.5, and to Patriots Fifth Quarter on myTV38.
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