"The Patriots are in the running every year (they're favored to win the AFC this season)," said Ridley, who became a pro early to help out his family in Natchez financially and to avoid an injury like former Tigers running backs have suffered after returning for a senior season.
"They have Tom Brady and a lot of weapons, people who know how to win. I'm just going to learn from them. I'll be playing with the best of the best."
The Patriots drafted Cal running back Shane Vereen in the second round. "That threw me off a little, but they told me they like me, and now all the hard work has paid off."
Former LSU tailback Kevin Faulk is winding up a long career with the Patriots. Their depth chart at running back includes Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis, former Ole Miss running back from New Orleans; Fred Taylor and Thomas Clayton.
"The struggles our family has had is not secret," said Ridley's mother, . "Stevan has taken the ashes and made something beautiful."
Ridley watching Charles Scott a year earlier had some bearing on his decision to enter the draft a year early.
"After seeing Charles go down -- and he was a possible first-rounder, second or third-round guy for sure. -- breaks his collarbone and it shows you in a split second how things can change." said Ridley in an interview with Tiger Rag Radio. "He ended up being a free agent. And Charles is still the same back as he was his junior year, he can still run the same. But one injury can knock you out of achieving your dreams or really getting into a position to come in there and produce on a team. (Scott was a late-round draft pick by the Eagles and was later traded).
"So for me, after seeing that one year previously, my decision for that issue as far as injuries are concerned was pretty easy for me to say that I really need to come out.
"For me to come back and up my stock that much more, I'd probably have to have a 1,400 or 1,500-yard season, and everybody knows that LSU rolls about four or five running backs. So the chances of me upping my stock to that level weren't looking that great,
"And even if they did give me the carries to up my stock, that's another year of wear and tear on my body. I really don't need that playing in the SEC. I decided to take the gamble. I don't know if it's the right decision or the wrong decision, but the decision is made."
Ridley is working out and spends time at LSU's weight room with Tigers strength and conditioning coach Tommy Moffitt. "He is the best in the business," said Ridley. "There's no reason to go anywhere else and train. There are probably about 10 to 15 active NFL guys who come back to Baton Rouge to train every year. I've just been training with these guys who are preparing to play this season."
Ridley is 5-foot-11 and 225 pounds.
Ridley was aware of a possible NFL lockout before deciding to turn pro.
"I kinda knew about it before I entered the draft," said Ridley. "That was one of the issues that I was looking at to see if I was making a smart move. The way I look at it I've been playing football for free the last 15 years and I hadn't had a paycheck yet anyway.
“When they get they get the lockout figured out, they'll get it figured out. NFL football is not over. I know at some point they're going to get it squared away, but until then, I'l be working out and I'll be ready to go the day they call my name and tell me to come to the facility.
"I'll be hitting the ground running."
by Ed Staton
...(Order your 2011 LSU Schedule T-shirts from Louisiana Sports Talk.com).
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