When the casual fans looks at his team’s performance from one year and compares it to the roster they are bringing into the next year while seeing little change, the tendency is to grow frustrated. You can’t expect to get different results from the same people, right?
Well, the people also change every year. Players grow up and become more comfortable. Most especially, sometimes players were added late in the offseason or even during the season, and didn’t even have much time to stop their head from spinning, relying instead on their derived ‘football instincts’ rather than current coaching.
He’s probably not going to be a major player this year—in fact, there’s actually a good chance that he won’t even be on the team—but Pittsburgh Steelers running back Stevan Ridley is one such player who was brought in during the season a year ago and is grateful to have a full offseason this time around.
Though new to the team, Ridley is a veteran who has over 300 rushing yards in his career. He had a successful four-year stint with the Patriots on his rookie contract, but has struggled to find a home since then, really starting with an injury late in his tenure in New England.
The Steelers only signed him in December when their backup running back, James Conner, suffered a torn MCL that ended his rookie season prematurely, but he came in and flashed some quickness, albeit in a meaningless season finale against the Cleveland Browns, who have since pretty much blown up their roster.
“To come in and have to dive into the playbook two weeks and then a playoff game, it was a little bit crazy”, Ridley told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “But to get the offseason here, get in, study the plays, starting form basic, learn a little bit more, get a little more familiar, has really been good. I can’t tell you the last time I really had a whole preseason to get in and dive into the playbook”.
He may not be able to tell you, but I can. It was in 2014, his final year with the Patriots. He played for the New York Jets in 2015, but missed the first half of the season because of a knee injury. In 2016, he was released by the Detroit Lions in late August. Last year, he was only signed by the Denver Broncos at the start of training camp.
The Steelers are Ridley’s eight different team, and the seventh since he spent his first four years with the Patriots. In spite of the fact that he had success in New England, he has really struggled to find consistency of any kind, including employment, since then.
He’s hoping to change that now. “I have been just happy. I can’t be anything but thankful. I got off to a good start last year and am trying to build off that”, he said of trying to pick up where he left off at the end of last season.