Running back Jeremy Hill is looking for a career rebirth in Foxborough.
The former LSU star entered the NFL as a second-round pick with the Bengals in 2014. He hit the ground running with 1,124 yards (5.1 avg.) with nine touchdowns as a rookie.
But subsequent seasons weren't nearly as productive as he averaged 3.6 yards per carry in 2015 and 3.8 yards a carry in 2016 before an injury-shortened final season in Cincy when he played in seven games and tallied just 37 carries with a 3.1-yard average.
Now, after signing as a free agent in New England this offseason, the 6-1, 230-pound Hill is in the mix of a deep, competitive Patriots backfield.
"The competition is great," Hill said following Friday's second day of training camp practice. "Coming from where I come from at LSU, we have a bunch of running backs. So I'm used to competing every day with guys that play at a high level. So coming here, it's no different. All the guys here have made plays in Super Bowls and done it for full seasons here. It's exciting to see those guys go out there every day and learn from them and try to take what I learn from them and put it in my game too. So it's good to compete out there with those guys every day."
Hill is by far the biggest back on the roster this summer in Foxborough. As such, he could battle it out with Mike Gillislee and undrafted rookie Ralph Webb for the "big back" role that LeGarrette Blount so successfully filled in recent years in New England.
Hill has proven himself in such a role in the past. His 29 rushing touchdowns over the last four seasons (even without finding the end zone last fall) are tied for fourth-most among active players behind just Mark Ingram (33), Blount (31) and Devonta Freeman (30).
"For sure. I think that's something I'm comfortable in," Hill said of the so-called "big back" role. "I do a great job scoring the goal line touchdowns and short-yardage stuff and doing all those things. I think that's something I credit myself in doing."
And though the Patriots seem stocked with backs capable of catching the ball with James White, Rex Burkhead and first-round rookie Sony Michel, Hill is also confident in his ability as a receiver and value he brings as an all-around option in the backfield. He's notched 67 career receptions, twice topping 20 in a season for the Bengals.
"Coming out of the draft I think that's something I prided myself in, catching the ball and trying to be an every-down back and pass blocking and doing all the little stuff," Hill said. "So scoring long touchdowns, scoring short touchdowns. I see myself as still being that guy that can play every down, that can make plays catching the ball and running the ball. I think I can bring that to this team for sure."
Even with that obvious confidence that comes with all accomplished athletes, Hill proclaims that he'll let his actions this summer decide where he fits in with the Patriots. Those actions will only increase this weekend as full-pads training camp practices begin, including goal-line sessions and more live work in the running game.
"I think that's the coaches' job. All I can do is come out here every day and do my job at the highest level possible and stay assignment-sound and work hard," Hill said. "And I think everything will fall into place for me. If I continue to stack those days on top of each other then everything will fall into place. I can't sit here and say I'll be doing this or that because I don't know at this point. All I can do is come out here and do my thing and I think everything else will fall into place."