James Develin performed well in his first season in NEw England. (USA TODAY Images)

(This is the eighth in a series of individual player spotlights over the next few weeks leading up to training camp. We’ll have several each day, so check back frequently as we go down the roster.  This edition focuses on Patriots fullback James Develin:) 

2013 Summary: 

Patriots fullback James Develin was one of the more pleasant surprises on New England’s roster in 2013, quietly carving out a nice niche that should potentially set him up for an opportunity to build on his first season when training camp opens in a few weeks.

Develin saw increased duties down the stretch last season, mostly being used as a blocker in both the running game and the passing game. He had limited carries in 2013, carrying just four times for ten yards, but he’ll forever live on with one of the most memorable touchdown runs fans have ever witnessed after bouncing off defensive players repeatedly in the Patriots win over Houston.

The former defensive end at the University of Brown finished his collegiate career with a sack and an interception before moving to fullback when he played in the UFL for the Florida Tuskers. He had previously spent time with the Bengals, but in his first full season with New England, Develin appeared in all 16 regular season games and became a stalwart at the fullback position.

Best game of 2013:

The touchdown run against the Texans was obviously his most memorable plays of the year, but his best performance was arguably his blocking performance during the Divisional playoff win over the Indianapolis Colts. In that game the Patriots racked up 234 yards rushing the football, including a 166 yard, four touchdown performance by LeGarrette Blount. Develin was responsible for opening up many of those runs, which doesn’t exactly show up on the stat sheet but can’t be overlooked.

Notable Stat of 2013:

Develin saw some action catching the ball out of the backfield last season, and finished with a perfect four receptions on four targets, the only player on the roster who – albeit on limited attempts – caught everything thrown his way during the regular season. He wasn’t targeted at all during the postseason.

What to Watch For in 2014: 

The above stat may be one of the reasons why James Develin got some work in at the tight end position during this offseason, which could set him up to be in the mix there by the time the regular season begins. Michael Hoomanawanui is expected to be the number two tight end behind Rob Gronkowski heading into camp, and adding Develin in the mix of the remaining group of tight ends should make for a competitive camp a that position.

Develin previously talked about being a versatile player and so far he’s done a good job in taking advantage of the opportunities he’s been given. His transition should certainly be something to keep an eye on during training camp, as well as how he’s used during the preseason. Not to mention the fact that being able to move him around both out of the backfield as a receiver and what he does with his blocking ability has already made him quite an asset for this football team.

He’s a hard worker with the right attitude and his personality has made him a great fit here in New England so far. If all goes well, he should be another player to expect great things from in 2014.