AFC East Notes: Ridley, Bills, Vick

Patriots running back Stevan Ridley should have plenty of motivation heading into the season. After struggling with fumble issues for much of last year, the former third-rounder was replaced by veteran LeGarrette Blount towards the end of the regular season and playoffs. With Blount gone, Ridley has a great opportunity to reestablish himself as a premier back. The opportunity to regain his starting gig isn’t the 25-year-old’s only motivation, however – Ridley is also entering the final year of his contract.

The fourth-year player addressed the situation and acknowledged that a future contract is certainly on his mind (via Phil Perry of…

“I have to be honest about it, it’s there,” Ridley said. “But it’s not my first concern. My first concern is going out there and being the best player for this team. If I go out there and have a productive year and do what I need to do, the contract will take care of itself.

“I’m not really gonna put too much thought into it. As you guys know, if I start thinking about that, it can easily be a distraction. I can’t worry about that. I’m gonna have some good days, have some bad days, I’m just gonna keep working, keep grinding, keep my head in the dirt and keep grinding it out.”

As the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe tweets, the Patriots haven’t had any discussion with Ridley’s camp regarding a new contract. Howe doesn’t expect any type of action until after the season, “if at all.”

Let’s check out some more notes from the AFC East…

  • The Bills lost another tight end to injury as starter Scott Chandler left the field on Sunday with a groin injury, writes Joe Buscaglia of WGR 550. The team was already without Tony Moeaki and Chris Gragg, but coach Doug Marrone indicated that the Bills would rely on their own players to fill the void. The only healthy tight ends on the roster are Lee Smith and Dominique Jones, and Buscaglia suggests that fullback Evan Rodriguez could get some reps.
  • Michael Vick had an impressive weekend at Jets training camp, but the veteran quarterback is aware of his position on the depth chart behind Geno Smith. “It’s a very fine line,” he said (via USA Today Sports’ Jarrett Bell). “I accept this role and I embrace it and I appreciate it. But I know this is not my football team. So that’s why I’m able to deal with it. At the same time, I feel like I’m one of the best quarterbacks in the league. That’s the way I feel.”
  • During the 2013 season, only one Jets starter (Demario Davis) played more than 29 percent of the team’s snaps on special teams. As Rich Cimini of writes, that will certainly change in 2014 as the team looks to improve a lackluster unit. “We’re going to use a bunch of those guys on all of our special teams,” said head coach Rex Ryan“We think we have to get better on ‘teams.’ We want to be one of the best special teams units in the league. It’s really all hands on deck, especially the punt team. We want to have a great punt team.”
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