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Patriots: Stevan Ridley looking to regain his starting role and a new contract

Stevan Ridley #22 of the New England Patriots celebrates after scoring a 3 yard touchdown in the third quarter against the Indianapolis Colts during the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 11, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
Stevan Ridley #22 of the New England Patriots celebrates after scoring a 3 yard touchdown in the third quarter against the Indianapolis Colts during the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 11, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The New England Patriots are an elite team off the field when it comes to preparing for the future. As free agency looms for running back Stevan Ridley, the team has drafted a couple running backs just in case they can’t retain the talented fourth-year player. Ball security will be a major factor in the Patriots signing Ridley to a long-term deal. So far, however, there have been no talks about extended Ridley according to NFL.com Wednesday.

Ridley is entering the final year of his rookie deal and although his production has been promising, his problems with holding onto the football during crucial times has out shadowed his performance and has placed him in Bill Belichick’s doghouse a few times during his brief career. Ridley understands any chance of a long-term contract will depend on earning his way back into Belichick’s good graces. Part of that includes being in better shape physically and mentally.

Lighter and faster, Ridley is committed to doing his part. As he is in competition with returning running backs Brandon Bolden and Shane Vereen to regain a starting role he lost last season to LeGarrette Blount, Ridley will also have to fend off fourth-round pick James White as well as undrafted prospects Roy Finch and Stephen Houston. A crowded and competitive backfield may be exactly the kind of motivation Ridley needs. He is also motivated regain his team’s trust and be a more important part of the offense. As far as his pending free agency goes, Ridley is turning to a higher power to take care of that.

“Honestly, man, I try not to think too much about (the contract),” Ridley said a week ago, I just really put my faith in God, and that’s just as real as I can be. I’ve just got to go out there and play football and hit it hard and run the ball out wide open. So I’ve just go to be the same player I’ve been to this point in time just try to be mistake-free.”

Ridley’s best year of production with the New England Patriots was in 2012 when he rushed for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns. If he remains focused and put the fumbling issues behind him, he could top those numbers this upcoming season. It will certainly be important in a make-or-break season.