The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Will Stevan Ridley get some revenge against the Patriots?
While any player at this level of the game should always have the appropriate motivation to perform at a high level in any contest, football is still played by humans who are swayed by emotion. There is a long history of players performing well—average the expectation—against former employers whom they feel mistreated them or gave up on them—and Stevan Ridley would like to be the latest player to achieve that against the Patriots.
Ridley was a third-round pick by New England back in 2011 and he had a great season in 2012 before seeing his role reduced. He tore up his knee in his contract year and the Patriots never even sniffed negotiations for another contract after that, choosing instead to move on to other options.
While business is business and they were well within their rights to take the course of action that they did, Ridley doesn’t have to like it, and he’s made it pretty clear this week that today’s game is more personal for him.
With James Conner almost assuredly not playing, and Randy Fichtner indicating that Ridley could have a bigger role than he did last week when Jaylen Samuels took nearly all the running back snaps, it will be interesting to see what kind of workload the veteran back sees, and how he performs with his opportunities.
He hasn’t gotten a lot of work this season, mostly because Conner has rarely come off the field—and because the team has started to use more four-receiver sets with no running back—but also because Samuels has taken over most of the snaps that the starter hasn’t taken.