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Ridley 'fired up' to face Pats after bitter '14 exit

Stevan Ridley didn't shy away from his remark that the Pats "trashed" him after a 2014 injury and said he has had Sunday's game "circled on the schedule a long time."

PITTSBURGH -- Steelers running back Stevan Ridley isn't backing down from comments he made to the Boston Herald that the New England Patriots "trashed" him after he was injured in his final season there.

Ridley, a former 1,000-yard rusher, will be part of the Steelers' two-man rushing attack Sunday against New England at Heinz Field, and he said he can't wait.

"That's my old team. [The departure] really hadn't sat well, and I'm a competitor," Ridley told Pittsburgh media after Thursday's practice. "I'm going to compete. To have the opportunity to be out there on the field, going against my old team, you can bet it. I'm fired up about it and I'm excited."

Ridley started 25 games for New England from 2011 through 2014, including a breakout second season in which he had 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns. But Ridley tore his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments during the 2014 season, and the Patriots moved on from him.

"I was trashed after an injury," Ridley told the Boston Herald. "I'm just going to put it that way. I'm not going to say specifically, but to be a starter for [the Patriots] for four years, to tear my ACL and never get a call back, that's a tough pill to swallow."

Ridley indicated to the Herald that the Patriots never contacted him after his rookie contract expired in 2014.

"Now they're still looking for a running back to come in and play," he told the Herald. "How many running backs have been through there to try to give them some consistency as a quote-unquote first- or second-down back? They're still looking for it right now. Yeah, it's very personal. It is."

Ridley has 737 carries for 3,082 yards and 24 touchdowns for his career, but only 265 of those yards have come since 2015 as Ridley played bit roles for the New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons and others. The Steelers signed him in December 2017, and he has rushed for 168 yards and two touchdowns on 49 carries. With James Conner out, Ridley is splitting time with rookie Jaylen Samuels.

"I don't really need to harp on [the past]. I don't want to make this interview too much about me," Ridley said Thursday. "I want to make it about two teams going at it. And right now, we're a team coming off three losses. There's nobody around here happy. With me, I'm just trying to make my way onto the field."

That doesn't mean Ridley won't try to provide a little open-field juice for his former teammates.

"That's a lot of my boys up there, a lot of my teammates," Ridley said. "I think I compete harder against my homies than people I don't know. So that's really what it is. It's not a jab at them. I'm an honest person. I'm upfront. This game's been circled on the schedule a long time."

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