While no official word has been made, several reports indicated the team reached an agreement with Jeff Demps, the former Florida running back and return specialist who recently competed in the Summer Olympics. Demps, who initially spurned NFL overtures last spring in order to focus on London, where he was part of Team USA’s 4x100 relay team that took home a silver medal, recently re-entered the football picture by making his intentions of joining the NFL clear.
“Nothing new to report on the roster,” was how personnel director Nick Caserio opened his Friday press conference. When asked specifically about Demps, Caserio simply reiterated his comments.
“We don’t have anything to report.”
Fox 13 in Tampa, Fla., was first to report the news of Demps joining New England. The5-7, 175-pound Demps had 25 touchdowns as a Gator and averaged 25 yards on 10 kick returns including a 99-yarder for Florida last season. According to NFLDraftscout.com, Demps has run a 4.26 40, which would put him in line to take the de facto title of fastest Patriot.
Caserio did answer a few questions regarding Demps’ abilities, explaining the scouting department did some work on him before his decision to forego the draft.
“Good with the ball, good speed, caught the ball OK, a little bit undersized. But they had some good offensive players – he and [Chris] Rainey split some time so they kind of used them in different ways,” Caserio began. “He had a little bit of production. How that translates over, the schemes are different. Any returner that comes into the NFL, whatever they did in college schematically is probably going to be a lot different than what we’re going to ask him to do.”
On Thursday, Belichick was asked about the possibility of acquiring Demps, and whether or not the two had a previous relationship based on the coach’s friendship with former Florida coach Urban Meyer.
“We scout all the players that come out in the draft. He wasn’t at the Combine and he didn’t do a spring workout so we didn’t have that interaction with him,” Belichick said. “Other than that, we’re not allowed to scout him except for to watch practice when we’re allowed in, that kind of thing. But you can’t have the same kind of interaction with him during the season that you can once they’ve declared for the draft.”
Belichick has talked during camp about the need for the Patriots to improve in the kick return department. Only three teams averaged fewer than the 21.6-yard average New England managed in 2011. The coach talked about making that an area of focus, but judging from a lackluster effort in the preseason opener against New Orleans it remains a work in progress.
“We didn’t return them very well in any conditions at any time and still haven’t based on the New Orleans game,” Belichick said on Thursday. “That’s obviously an area that we can improve in, that we have worked hard in but based on the results still need to do a lot more work on. Important area in the game, it’s a big momentum play, it’s a way of answering the opponent’s score or start of the half, whatever the situation is there. It’s a big play in the game and an important play so we put a lot of stock in that just like we do every other play.”
Way to go, rook
In what has become a training camp custom in Foxborough, Belichick offered his team a carrot by offering a night off in exchange for a player catching punt. It’s usually an individual who isn’t used to handling the football with players like
On Friday it was defensive end
Cornering the market
Former Patriots All-Pro cornerback Ty Law was on hand for practice with a group of children including three of his own. He spent several minutes speaking with Chris Simms before mingling with the players on the fields. He and
“They’re going to be in a strong position to make another run,” Law said of the Patriots. “If they solidify the defense, which they have addressed, the offense is going to be what they’re going to be and I think they’re going to make a strong run for the Super Bowl again.”
Law fielded some questions about the game today, and how the dependence on the passing game has opened offenses up.
“It’s pretty difficult. I know I would have probably led the league in pass interference penalties if I was still playing. It has changed. But I think the audience wants to see a lot of points scored. It’s making it pretty tough. If you’re a good defensive back and can play within the rules you’re in high demand.
“I don’t necessarily like the way the game in changing because of the lack of respect they have for defensive backs but it is what it is and you have to abide by the rules and play the best way you can. These 4,000-, 5,000-yard passers that you see year in, year out – you’d never see that when I was playing.”
Sell: Receivers – Lots of drops on Friday, both in the passing game and on special teams. Brandon Lloyd failed to hold onto a pair of catchable balls and
Play of the day:
Players seen in shorts included Gaffney, Ridley, Dennard, Ihedigbo, Larsen, White, Zusevics, Hix, Vollmer, Fells and Pryor. …
Friday was the official end of training camp open to the public. The Patriots will not practice on Saturday and will conduct a walk-through on Sunday in preparation for the Eagles game Monday night. The team will travel to Tampa, Fla., the following day for joint practices with the Bucs Aug. 22-23 before preseason Game 3 Aug. 24 at Raymond James Stadium.