FOXBOROUGH — Stevan Ridley will be on the sidelines this weekend, just not in uniform.
And this time, it will be Friday and Saturday, rather than Sunday.
While many players around the league escape football during the bye week, New England’s second-year running back wants no part of that. Ridley is heading to Louisiana to watch his former high school’s game on Friday before attending his alma mater’s biggest clash of the season a day later.
“I’ll be down in Baton Rouge, watching the LSU-’Bama game, of course,” he said of his fifth-ranked Tigers and their showdown vs. No. 1 Alabama Saturday. “It’s funny how you get some time away and I’m going to watch another football game.
“So, I’m leaving football to go to football. Hey, it’s my life.”
And with good reason.
At the midway point of the Patriots’ season, the burgeoning back is blossoming into one of the league’s best, leading the AFC with 716 yards rushing, good enough for fourth in the NFL. He has 57 more yards than Houston’s Arian Foster, who led the league in 2010 but has played in one less game than Ridley this season.
When he entered the league as the 73rd pick last year, the idea that he’d be ahead of Foster and a slew of other All-Pro backs halfway through his sophomore season wasn’t a thought.
“I just go out there and run the football,” he said, “and I look up right now . leading the AFC in rushing? It’s a dream come true for me.”
The same could be said for the Patriots (5-3).
Led by quarterback Tom Brady, one of the most potent and pass-happy offenses in the league over the past five years has now morphed into a more balanced attack behind the straight-ahead running of Ridley.