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Jeff Demps Returns to Track

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The Olympic sprinter and former Florida Gator brought in to bolster the Patriots' kick and punt return units informs the team he's returning to track and field.

Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

Amidst a flurry of Alex Smith updates, the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport sneakily inserted this little nugget in his Tuesday evening Twitter feed:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23Patriots">#Patriots</a> news from TA: Olympic sprinter Jeff Demps has informed the Pats he's returning to track. But... Wants to play 2 sports. <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23staytuned">#staytuned</a></p>&mdash; Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) <a href="https://twitter.com/RapSheet/status/306559062089273345">February 27, 2013</a></blockquote>
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Demps, a hot ticket multithreat that was courted by a large handful of teams prior to the 2012 season, ended up signing a three-year deal with the Patriots that was expected to shore up frustratingly lackluster kick and punt returns. Before competing in the London Olympics and earning a silver medal as part of the 4x100m relay team, Demps was an integral part of the Florida Gators' backfield and third national title run.

Demps' agent Daniel Rose reached out to Rapoport, adding that his client would ideally like to play both sports:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Jeff Demps' agent Daniel Rose of @<a href="https://twitter.com/gridironsports">gridironsports</a>: "Jeff has no intention of leaving football. He just loves track and wants to do both"</p>&mdash; Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) <a href="https://twitter.com/RapSheet/status/306590758234898433">February 27, 2013</a></blockquote>
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Demps currently has a race scheduled for March with track season typically running through August. It's unclear exactly how Demps would be able to juggle both commitments as he would likely miss valuable offseason programs including OTAs. Although Demps was officially signed last season, a quick trip to the injured reserve after only one game of action made his rookie season a veritable wash.

The Boston Herald's Jeff Howe insists that Demps wouldn't miss anything mandatory:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Part of his offseason program, no plans to miss anything mandatory RT @<a href="https://twitter.com/dillmatic">dillmatic</a>: @<a href="https://twitter.com/jeffphowe">jeffphowe</a> is he just doing it or asking for permission?</p>&mdash; Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) <a href="https://twitter.com/jeffphowe/status/306601068828176386">February 27, 2013</a></blockquote>
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...But it might be the non-required activities that hold the most importance to rookies and second-year players. After Demps' injury, many speculated that he simply needed to adjust to the grueling conditioning of an NFL player and bulk up in accordance with a greater emphasis on strength. While the jury's still out on how the New England Patriots choose to handle the news, it can't be the plan the team envisioned for a player that was figured to perform multiple key roles for them next season and beyond.

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