Bill Murray has been a staple on the New England Patriots practice squad the past two seasons. But when he took the field for the first time this summer entering year three, something was different — his position.
After spending the first two years of his career on the defensive line, Murray made the switch to offensive guard coming into training camp this season.
“I’m just here to help the team out in any way possible,” Murray told reporters after practice Saturday. “Coach wanted me to try out offensive line, so I'm going to give it everything I got and help out the team any way I can.”
The former undrafted free agent out of William & Mary has not played offensive line since High School, where he told reporters he played both tackle and guard.
“It’s a whole new position, it’s very tough,” he explained. “My teammates have been very helpful, coaches have been very helpful. Everyday I'm just trying my best to get better every day, that's all I can do.”
After spending the last several years of his professional and collegiate career — where he was an FCS All-American and two-time All-CAA Second Team selection — attacking offensive linemen, Murray hopes to be able to use those tactics he’s learned to his advantage. However, mastering the fundamentals are top priority.
“Right now I’m just focused on my fundamentals, that’s the biggest thing for me,” he said. “Hopefully that will help later on once I get a good base.”
Making the switch from defense to offensive line isn’t something new for the Patriots, as guard Stephen Neal did it in the early-2000s.
Neal, who was an All-American wrestler, signed with New England as a defensive end before ending up at guard. Neal went to start 81 games at guard for the Patriots from 2002 to 2010.
Bill Belichick has long been a fan of the former guard, making it no surprise that Murray is familiar with his situation.
“He’s a guy who was an All-American wrestler, started out with a little D-line and then switched to offensive line and had a helluva career,” Murray said. “It’s definitely a positive knowing people have done it.”
Murray’s first real test along the offensive line will start Monday as the team is set to practice in full pads for the first time this summer.
“At the end of the day I'm just excited to get on this offensive line and do the best I can do,” he said.