One of this week’s NFL rumors involves the New England Patriots and their newly acquired rookie free agent Jeff Demps. While the injury to projected starting running back Stevan Ridley has created a minor depth chart problem, Demps is expected to primarily return kickoffs for the Patriots in 2012.
Despite interest from teams including the New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers where Demps would likely have featured more in the offense, the Patriots were able to sign the rookie free agent Friday. Bill Belichick has made clear that he is not happy with the current group of returners on the Patriots roster and this latest rumor is that Demps will fill that role when the season starts next month.
Playing four years at the University of Florida, Demps played at running back and returned kick offs winning a national championship in 2008. He never carried the ball over 100 times in a season at Florida though he did accumulate over 90 carries in his final three seasons. After a strong sophomore season in which he had 99 carries for 745 yards, he regressed slightly his final two seasons never breaking 570 yards.
On the Patriots Demps looks to be a kickoff return specialist. Though he had little experience returning kickoffs in college, Demps has world class speed which translates on the football field. In track he won four national championships for the Gators which included 60 meters, 100 meters, and the 4×100 meter relay. He further showed that speed in London this summer where he was a part of the United States 4×100 meter relay squad that won the silver medal.
The Patriots offense is shaping up to be the best in the NFL in 2012 without their newest player so Demps’ presence will likely not be needed on that side of the ball. But Bill Belichick has been looking for someone to take over kickoff return duties and he may have found that player in Demps. With blazing world class speed on the track and on grass, Demps has the skills necessary to fix one of the few problems on this Patriots roster.