BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots’ kick return game has been sorely lacking for some time now, but they’re hoping the addition of an Olympic sprinter might provide a boost.
Undrafted rookie Jeff Demps made his practice debut for the Pats on Wednesday, as the team worked with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first of their joint sessions this week.
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CSNNE’s Tom Curran reported via Twitter that Demps immediately got some work returning kicks, an area he likely has the best chance to make an impact. Demps returned 18 kicks in his junior and senior seasons at Florida, averaging 28.3 yards per return and scoring one touchdown. He’s coming off a silver medal performance in London for his running in a preliminary heat for the 4 x 100 relay.
The Patriots ranked 29th last year with an average kick return of 21.4 yards. In two preseason games thus far this year, the team has averaged 15.5 yards per return using Danny Woodhead, Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley.
In addition to Demps’ debut, the practice was also the first of the season for tackle Sebastian Vollmer and tight end Daniel Fells, who were activated from the physically unable to perform list. Rookie cornerback Alfonzo Dennard also returned to practice, while Jabar Gaffney was absent.