Meet Your Preseason Phenom #1: RB Stevan Ridley, Patriots
|New England's Stevan Ridley emerged from week one of the pre-season as a player to watch.
16 carries, 64 yards, 2 TDs; 7 catches 47 yards, TD vs. the Jaguars
Normally I dismiss each and every one of these “August stars” scoring touchdowns in fake football games. I call it the Wali Lundy Effect. Remember him? Back in 2006 the unknown Lundy tore it up in the preseason for the Texans; compiling 195 yards from scrimmage on only 32 touches. I saw one fantasy expert take him in the 12th round and proudly blog-boast it was “possibly the premier sleeper pick of 2006.” (I’m not naming names because I’ve screwed the pooch many times.) Lundy did actually produce in two games that year, but for the most part he only played because Houston’s other options were yawners like Sam Gado and Ron Dayne. Lundy was out of football a year later.
Is Stevan Ridley the new Wali Lundy?... Hmmm. Let me tell you a story. Ridley played football with my cousin Ivan at tiny Trinity Episcopal in Natchez, Mississippi. I’ve been hearing about Ridley for years. Trinity’s graduating class is around 30 students, and Ridley’s opponents weren’t always blue-chip Alabama & USC prospects from week to week – but the kid totally dominated and led Trinity to the Div. 1A Mississippi State title, carrying the ball 52 times for 317 yards & 3 TDs in the big game. Ole Miss wanted Ridley to come to Oxford but they insisted he was a linebacker so he chose LSU. Like all Tiger backs, Ridley had to earn his keep and climb up the ladder, but in his senior year he rushed for 1,147 yards against the NCAA’s 4th-hardest rushing schedule. Bill Belichick took him in the 3rd round ahead of bigger names like Boise State WR Austin Pettis or Miami DL Allen Bailey – both of whom were early 2nd round prospects according to Mel Kiper.
So here we are with Preseason Week 1 in the books and Ridley is at the top of the fake-game leaderboard, just like Wali Lundy was. Only this time I’m buying. Not the “12th round, Oh My God What a Sleeper” kind of buying, but I’m definitely penciling Ridley onto my bench-stash list. He’s still got four sturdy, accomplished pros ahead of him – BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead, and Sammy Morris – but then again so did BGE last year and look what happened. Bill Belichick will give Ridley a chance and with balance and leg drive like this I’m betting Ridley will make the most of it.
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