The call went out Tuesday.
Patriots running back Stevan Ridley, perhaps dealing with the greatest level of adversity in his three-year career, needed guidance from his close friend and mentor, so he dialed up Kevin Faulk.
Ridley has fumbled in three consecutive games, and his four lost fumbles this season are tied for the most in the NFL among skill-position players. His time on the bench has increased with the last two gaffes, from zero snaps on the sideline against the Steelers to 17 against the Panthers to a permanent seat against the Broncos following the drop on his fourth carry of the night.
With that, it’s unclear how much playing time, if any, Ridley will earn in future game plans. His chance to become the first Patriot under Bill Belichick to rush for back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons has greatly diminished. He has 576 yards with five weeks remaining.
Faulk went through it early in his career, too, so Ridley naturally sought out his former teammate.
“It was good,” Faulk told the Herald about his heart to heart with Ridley. “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. All in all, it’s on him. It’s not what anybody else has to say. I know he’s reaching out to a bunch of different people, but the end result is what you have to do as a football player. That’s what I tried to get across to him.”
Ridley was borderline despondent when discussing his own performance after Sunday’s dramatic victory against the Broncos, calling it “almost disgusting” and saying his “teammates deserve better.” He noted it was time to change something, and he would seek as much advice as possible, especially from his elder comrade from LSU.
Faulk had nine fumbles (six lost) in his first two seasons with the Patriots, including a career-worst six (four lost) in 2000 when Belichick arrived. Faulk righted the issue for two seasons until he lost four in 2003. Then he finished his career without losing a fumble in his final five seasons.
“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.”
The call went out Tuesday.