By: Ian Logue
Last year the acquisition of Jeff Demps seemed to be a stroke of genius on the part of Bill Belichick, with the former Olympian showing enough during the preseason that he could be a force to be reckoned with in 2013 after spending all of last year on injured reserve.
The question now appears to be whether or not Jeff Demps will be on the field for the Patriots in 2013. (FILE:USPresswire)
Demps, who suffered a leg injury in last year’s preseason finale, wasn’t exactly in football shape after arriving in Foxboro. As a sprinter he was a bit underweight as a running back (5’7″ 175lbs – nearly 25 pounds lighter than even former Patriot Danny Woodhead who is just an inch taller but considered pretty small compared to other backs) and was more of the size of a receiver at that point.
At the time his injury didn’t seem serious enough to cost him a season, so it had initially seemed that Bill Belichick placed him on injured reserve to possibly give him time to bulk up his body a bit for 2013. Like tight end Jake Ballard, who the Patriots stole from the Giants after claiming him off of waivers, Demps would have seemingly given New England an additional threat this season. Unfortunately now that appears to be up in the air.
The former standout out of Florida reportedly told Belichick last month that he was going to be focusing on track and field and would like to be a two sport athlete, with his primary focus being on track and field. His plan was to potentially return to the club later in the NFL season – provided that the head coach would allow him to do so.
According to the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe, the Patriots haven’t returned his agent’s calls over the past three weeks, which doesn’t exactly provide any certainty over his future with the football team.
Demps was thought to be a potential threat in the return game heading into this year as well as a weapon out of the backfield, especially after his performance in his brief time on the field during the 2012 preseason. He had three returns for 63 yards returning kickoffs, as well as five punt returns for 65 yards.
In New England’s offense he caught three passes for 31 yards, as well as finishing with 56 yards on 9 carries (6.2 avg). He finished tied for first with Stevan Ridley for the longest team rushing gain of the preseason, which was a 29 yard gain during the third exhibition game against the Buccaneers on a 2nd-and-8 carry.
He also finished tied for second with Julian Edelman for the longest preseason team reception, which was a 23 yard gain on a 3rd-and-4 play against the Giants in the final exhbition contest.
He’s an explosive player, there’s no question about that. However, having been blessed with World Class speed, Demps seems more focused on taking advantage of his gift off of the gridiron. It’s tough to fault him for that, but now fans are left to wonder whether or not that glimpse we saw of him last year may be the only one we’ll ever get to see in a Patriots uniform.
Demps said during an interview with “Sports Talk Florida” that he expected to miss three to five games in 2013, which would give him an opportunity to make an impact midseason – provided Belichick approves. Injuries obviously happen during the season, so it makes sense for them to not close the door for him to come back. Now it’s up to Belichick to decide whether or not to leave it open.
According to the Boston Globe at the league meetings last week, Belichick was asked about Demps and how his concentrating on track would affect his standing with New England, but Belichick didn’t give much of an indication.
‘”Well, we’ll deal with each player individually with their specific situations and circumstances, whatever they happen to be … Demps may have some circumstances. Players with injuries have different circumstances,” he told the newspaper. “We’ll deal with them all individually. In the end, we try to do the best we can, what’s best for the team. Same as we always do.”