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Sunday, July 28, 2013
Big takeaway: Ridley's ball security

By Mike Reiss

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Patriots were in full pads for the first time on Sunday, and the team worked on goal-line running at the end of the practice.

One play stood out -- a fumble by running back Stevan Ridley that was scooped up by Vince Wilfork, who rumbled down the field to the applause of fans.

It was the second time in practice that a running play involving Ridley led to a football on the ground, as earlier in the session Ridley never fully gathered in a handoff and the ball popped into the air, recovered by the defense.

After each fumble, Ridley was told to run to the other end of the field as a form of punishment.

It makes little sense to blow one training camp practice out of proportion, especially on wet fields, but Ridley's ball security still figured to be at the top of the coaching staff's list of areas to address. Ridley's ball security was an issue at times last season, as he fumbled three times in a span of two December games.

Ridley projects as the Patriots' lead back in 2013, as he was last season when he played almost 45 percent of the offensive snaps. But if there is one thing that could change plans, it's ball-security issues.

Four-year veteran LeGarrette Blount has also been getting some early work in camp and he was 2 for 2 in the goal-line running drill. Ridley was 1-for-2 on the goal-line, scoring on his other rushing attempt.

Second-year back Brandon Bolden is also in the running back mix (he didn't participate in the goal-line running drill), while Shane Vereen and Leon Washington project more to the "passing back" role.

The Patriots worked quite a bit on the screen game in practice Sunday, with Vereen catching quite a few passes.

But if there was one thing that stood out with the running backs, it was Ridley's ball security.