When undrafted free agent Jeff Demps chose to sign with the New England Patriots, the decision was met with much fanfare and promise. The Olympian is highly regarded for his speed and returning ability, and the Patriots are a team that desperately needed a returner with the underwhelming Danny Woodhead and Julian Edelman taking kicks for the Pats (those two guys are fine, it’s just that they aren’t the best kick returners; Edelman is good on punts though).
Anyway, Demps looked like a dangerous weapon in the preseason despite looking like, well, an undrafted free agent rookie. The former Florida Gators star, however, will not be upgrading the Patriots special teams unit in 2012. The team has placed Demps on the injured reserve, effectively redshirting the popular UDFA who is getting $211,000 in guaranteed money.
He received a minor injury during the Patriots final preseason game against the New York Giants late in the game, so that is why he is allowed to be placed on the injured reserve. It looks like the Patriots felt that Demps is talented but isn’t close to being ready yet. That certainly makes sense after watching him in the preseason. While he looked great and made a few big plays, Jeff Demps clearly didn’t look locked in.
It is still surprising to see that he won’t be returning kick-offs for the New England Patriots next season because, raw or not, he would have been a big upgrade for the return unit going forward. I mean, you don’t need to know a whole lot in order to return kicks. But the line of thinking here is that a player can’t just exclusively be a specialist- hence the cuts of Niko Koutouvides and Jeff Tarpinian- and must have some other use for the team. I guess the Patriots feel like Demps isn’t quite there as a running back.
The Patriots also released fullback Eric Kettani, despite some good preseason performances. I’m definitely not surprised and feel that Brandon Bolden is the more effective player. It’s interesting, because Bolden could possibly be used as a fullback. In any case, the Pats are rolling with four running backs, and Jeff Demps isn’t one of them. That’s interesting, because I thought the release of Kettani would mean that the Pats would surely hold on to all five of their backs; that wasn’t the case.
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