Veteran Stevan Ridley prepared for enhanced role with Steelers
Since amassing 2,719 rushing yards over his first three years in the NFL, Stevan Ridley has had a nomadic career the past four seasons. The Pittsburgh Steelers are his seventh team over a three-year span when he signed in December 2017.
Six weeks shy of his 30th birthday, Ridley has averaged 3.1 yards over 83 regular-season carries since 2015.
With James Conner out because of an ankle injury, Ridley was asked after practice Wednesday if he is still a 4.2-yards-per-carry running back, which represents his career average.
“Absolutely,” the former featured back for the New England Patriots said. “And I am excited to get out there and show it, man.”
Ridley will get a chance Sunday at the Oakland Raiders. He and Jaylen Samuels are expected to share backfield duties.
It was five weeks ago Ridley’s job was likely spared when the deadline for Le’Veon Bell to report to the Steelers passed . Now, his presence as an insurance policy in case of injury to Conner is ready to be cashed in by the Steelers.
“There’s no doubt about it, I have been awaiting a shot, awaiting this opportunity,” Ridley said.
“It’s been a while, man, but I have worked and prepared and I don’t doubt my talents at all. I know the Lord has got a plan – and it hadn’t been the plan I wanted. It’s taken me a little longer to get back out in a locker room, back on the field, get some touches… I am just excited about the opportunity, whatever presents itself. Whether it be two carries or 20 carries or whatever, I am just going out there taking this W any way we can. So I am ready to contribute.”
Ridley appeared in six of the Steelers’ first seven games, getting 11 touches. But since a fumble during the second half of an Oct. 28 win against Cleveland, he has appeared in just one game. His only action came during a 31-point win Nov. 8 against the Carolina Panthers.
That was Ridley’s first fumble since 2013.
Ridley said that he, Samuels and Trey Edmunds all got some first-team reps at practice Wednesday.
“We have to let these young guys play,” Ridley said, “and I am going to be the veteran in the room helping out when I can, do what they ask me. And when they call the number to play, I have to be ready to go.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at email@example.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.