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Don’t forget about Stevan Ridley as Steelers look to replace Le’Veon Bell production

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Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers linebacker Tyler Matakevich breaks up a pass intended for running back Stevan Ridley during practice Aug. 7, 2018 at Saint Vincent College.

Stevan Ridley gives a knowing smile. Too much of a veteran and too good of a teammate to let on, though, he appreciated the question.

In the absence of Le’Veon Bell for the foreseeable future, James Conner is getting all of the attention as Bell’s replacement. Has everyone forgotten about Ridley and his seven seasons and 3,000-plus rushing yards of experience?

“I’ll just say I’m ready, man,” Ridley said Friday after Pittsburgh Steelers practice. “For real, I am excited for the young cat, excited for James, because I know how it was getting my first start in the NFL.

“But no one man can do it by himself, and I truly mean that. So whatever (coaches) call, however (his contributions) come, I am ready.”

Ridley pleads ignorance in what, exactly, his role will be when the Steelers open the regular season at the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. A third-down role isn’t out of the question, but it doesn’t necessarily mesh properly with the skillset of Ridley, who has 27 career catches in seven seasons – or roughly a third of what Bell had last season alone.

But Ridley has won a Super Bowl and has a 290-carry, 1,263-yard season to his credit (2012). He had 26 carries for 108 yards and a touchdown over the final two games last season after getting signed by the Steelers following an injury to Conner.

Though he missed a large portion of camp because of injury, the 29-year-old Ridley showed he still had it in the preseason finale (nine touches, 44 yards) that the Steelers kept him as their backup running back – at least until Bell arrives.

“Being a pro, being a veteran, you’ve got to be able to do it all,” Ridley said, “so that’s how I am seeing my role. First down or third down, or if I’ve got to go in there on fourth down to play some special teams, whatever, I am getting in there and trying to find out how I can help this team.”

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Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at [email protected] or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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