In last Friday's preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, there weren't a whole lot of positives for the New England Patriots. However, one of the few good things we saw in the game vs. the Bucs was the play of former Olympian sprinter Jeff Demps.
With a little more than five minutes remaining in the game, Demps took a handoff from third-string quarterback Ryan Mallett, then proceeded to run the ball well into the red-zone. The 29-yard run set up a touchdown pass from Mallett to Jeremy Ebert a few plays later.
The play tied Stevan Ridley's run for the longest run of the night and gave Patriots fans a look as to what Demps could bring to the team.
When the Pats signed the 22-year-old speedster as a free agent, their already-elite offense became even more multi-faceted. Demps is the 'burner'-type player that the Pats have lacked at running back for the last several years.
Demps reportedly ran an official 4.26 40-yard dash in college, which would put him just after Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans for the fastest player in the NFL today. Johnson, of course, is considered one of the premier running backs in the league.
The simple fact of the matter is that speed kills. Defenders can't tackle someone whom they can't catch.
While in college at Florida, Demps pulled off one of the fastest runs you will ever see on a football field. The game was against the Kentucky Wildcats, and he took the ball all the way to the endzone, good for an 84-yard run. On this particular play, Demps took the ball in between the left guard and tackle and basically outran the entire Kentucky defense.
One of the Wildcats in the secondary was almost ten yards ahead of him with a great angle for the tackle. The defender was left in the dust less than two seconds later.
This is the kind of explosiveness that Demps can bring to the Patriots offense.
Demps can also be utilized as a receiver coming out of the backfield. With Josh McDaniels as the new offensive coordinator, the Pats will likely run more dink-and-dunk plays than last year. Demps will likely see quite a few targets on screens and short routes.
And that's just what he can do while playing on offense.
Demps will have a big impact on kickoff returns, an area of special teams that the Patriots have had trouble with. Danny Woodhead was the only viable kick returner on the squad until the Demps signing. Now, both can be paired together to form one of the deadliest return combos in the league.
The Pats will hope to get great field position every time the offense steps onto the field thanks to Demps. You can see some of his kickoff highlights at the 1:24 and 2:35 marks of this video.
With world-class speed and great experience playing football, Jeff Demps should have no problem carving out his role in the New England offense. Demps' talent will be readily welcomed by Patriots fans.
Demps will certainly become one of the most exciting players to watch in the NFL and will add new dimensions to the New England attack.