People keep asking me if Jeff Demps can actually help the Patriots this season, especially when they already have a logjam at running back (albeit an unproven logjam). Uh…Demps just won a silver medal for sprinting…in the Olympics…
So the short answer is yes, Demps can absolutely help. He’s a football player who played a crucial role for one of the most prestigious programs in the country, and he’s one of the fastest human beings on the face of the earth. If you’re worried that he’s only Olympic fast (fast on a track coming out blocks, not necessarily football fast) go ahead and watch this touchdown run he had at Florida. He just outruns every single person on the field. Like six different guys have angles on him and he just runs straight by all of them.
The Patriots had an anemic return game last year, and it wasn’t going to be any better based on the people they brought in this year – until now. A cocktail of Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, Matthew Slater and Danny Woodhead is not exactly striking fear into the other team’s kickoff unit. But an Olympic sprinter with a football pedigree? Teams have to gameplan for that.
It’s just hard not like the move. Other teams wanted him – including the Jets – and they didn’t get him. The Pats kept him away from a rival and potential challenger for the division (Suck it, Jets). There’s no risk in bringing him in except that you eat up a roster spot in camp, of which there are about 100 anyway. Not a big deal. And, the potential reward is a guy who becomes the best kick returner in the NFL and has the ability to help you on third downs if you want him to.
SI’s Peter King informed me this morning that Demps has some fumbling problems, so obviously that has to be held in check for him to make the team. But assuming that a grown men with athletic ability through the roof can learn how to hold on to the football (I fair assumption, I think), Demps should make the team and make a difference.