BOSTON (CBS) — With a pair of signings on Monday, the New England Patriots have filled their practice squad.
The Patriots reportedly signed wide receiver Jace Billingsley (according to Pro Football Weekly’s Eric Edholm) and offensive tackle Eric Smith (according to ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss) to complete their practice squad roster. In addition to those signings, the Pats also worked out former Texans tight end Stephen Anderson, according to Reiss.
Billingsley is the second receiver to sign with the New England practice squad, joining weekend roster cut Riley McCarron. The 25-year-old Billingsley played his college ball at Eastern Oregon where he was a dual-threat receiver/running back. He finished his four years with 249 receptions for 2,596 yards and 23 touchdowns while rushing for another 1,784 yards and 17 touchdowns. He averaged 5.7 yards per carry over his collegiate career.
The 5-foot-9, 189-pound receiver signed with the Detroit Lions as an undrafted free agent in 2016 and split time between their practice squad and active roster. The Lions reportedly wanted to keep Billingsley this season and cross-train him as a running back, according to Edholm, but he chose the Patriots instead.
It’s not hard to understand why he chose New England, as he appears to be a fan of their receivers past and present. Billingsley has been studying film of Patriots receiver Julian Edelman since coming into the league, and he even listed Wes Welker as his favorite athlete on his bio page at Eastern Oregon.
Smith becomes the third offensive lineman to join the New England practice squad since Sunday. The 23-year-old played his college ball at Virginia and was signed by Miami as an undrafted free agent last year. He made their 53-man roster but landed on IR in October, returning to action in December. Smith was waived by Miami over the weekend as they trimmed their roster.
The Patriots now have the maximum 10 players on their practice squad: Offensive linemen Cole Croston, James Ferentz and Eric Smith, quarterback Danny Etling, wide receivers Riley McCarron and Jace Billingsley, running back Ralph Webb, defensive tackles Trent Harris and Vincent Valentine, and cornerback Jomal Wiltz on the squad.
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