FOXBOROUGH -- Shane Vereen said after practice Thursday that he still supports and has confidence in fellow running back Stevan Ridley, who sat out last Sunday's win at Houston after losing fumbles in each of the Patriots' three previous games.
Ridley, whose locker is two down from Vereen's, near most of the other running backs, declined an interview request Thursday, same as Wednesday. He has not spoken publicly since the Patriots made him inactive for Sunday's game.
Coach Bill Belichick said the decision was not meant to send a message or make a statement, despite Ridley leading the Patriots in rushing yards with 576 and having scored at least one rushing touchdown in five straight games earlier this season.
Vereen was optimistic and supportive when talking about his teammate and the difficult times he is going through.
"Stevan is a great player, and we’re there when he needs us," said Vereen. "But he knows what he has to do, and we fully expect him to be there. As a running back group, we’re pretty close, and for that reason alone, no one’s too far down, nobody’s too high up, everybody helps each other and keeps each other going."
Why, Vereen was asked, is Ridley in need of so much support?
"Everybody goes through ups and downs, that’s part of the game," said Vereen, "and when you’re down, you need teammates, you need friends to help bring you back up to where you should be and start playing with confidence again."