Oct. 14, 2012 would mark Greg Scruggs’ third NFL game and first meeting with the New England Patriots.
Only the 6-foot-3, 277-pounder wouldn’t catch any passes on that drizzly afternoon in Seattle. He wouldn’t block anyone, either.
At the time, those weren’t part of Scruggs’ job responsibilities. He was a defensive lineman, one who’d been drafted in the seventh round by the Seahawks some six months prior, after accruing 19 tackles for loss, eight sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception over the course of his four-year career at Louisville.
Scruggs entered for 19 snaps against New England that day, in what was a 24-23 Seattle upset. And on a third-and-6 with 12:23 left in the third quarter, he’d enter into the stat sheet for the first time as an NFL rookie.
The ball was snapped to Tom Brady in the shotgun, and Scruggs was quickly met by longtime Patriots left guard Logan Mankins. The two would engage in a tug of war at the line of scrimmage before Scruggs chopped the perennial Pro Bowler’s hands down.
He got his own hands on running back Danny Woodhead thenceforth.
Woodhead would keep his legs driving, ultimately moving the chains for a first down as linebacker Bruce Irvin added reinforcement. Scruggs, though, would have his first assisted tackle on the play.
Scruggs went on to register six tackles and one sack over nine appearances for the Seahawks that season, but spent all of Seattle’s Super Bowl XLVIII 2013 season on physically unable to perform and played in only three games to notch two tackles in 2014.
The Seahawks later waived Scruggs in August of 2015 and he signed with the Chicago Bears in December. One game and one sack followed before a transition to tight end did as well over the offseason.
The Patriots got to see Scruggs’ position switch up close during joint practices with Chicago on the backfields of Gillette Stadium. And after the 26-year-old was released by the Bears three games and eight offensive snaps into the 2016 campaign, he’d return to Foxborough for a free-agent workout.
New England signed Scruggs on Saturday, and two days later, fellow tight end Clay Harbor was released.
And now, wearing No. 83 instead of No. 98, Scruggs finds himself alongside a former opponent in Rob Gronkowski, a onetime teammate in Martellus Bennett, as well as AJ Derby on a depth chart of four.
It is new territory. But, in a sense, it is also familiar.