FOXBORO, Mass. — Montee Ball spent more than three months in NFL free agency limbo, but that could wind up being an advantage for the New England Patriots.
The practice-squad running back, who signed with the Patriots on Tuesday, doesn’t have much tread on his tires, while running backs who have played the entire season are battling through minor injuries.
“Fresh legs, fresh legs right now, especially coming in this late in the season,” Ball said Thursday in the Patriots’ locker room. “Fresh legs, but (Patriots head coach) Belichick, he knows what he’s doing. He knows what I’m capable of doing. I’m going to show them what I can do.”
Ball, who weighed 214 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine in February 2013 and is listed on the Patriots roster at 215 pounds, actually weighs in the 230s, according to ESPN’s Ed Werder. Ball weighed 240 pounds when he worked out with the Green Bay Packers two weeks ago.
Ball said it took some adjustment to get back on the practice field.
“It was just tough,” Ball said. “Yesterday was a little tough just getting back in pads. It was funny a couple times, but it’s fun. If you love the game, you become acclimated to it really quickly.”
The Patriots might need Ball to get back in game shape quickly. They have running backs Brandon Bolden and James White on their active roster and Ball and fullback Joey Iosefa on their practice squad after placing LeGarrette Blount on injured reserve. NFL teams typically carry at least three running backs into games.
“I’m not in the position anymore where I can say what I want to do and where I want to be,” Ball said. “It’s wherever they want to put me. Whenever my number’s called, I’ll do what I can.”
Ball will have help learning the playbook and intricacies of playing on the Patriots from White, his college teammate at Wisconsin.
“Extremely helpful,” Ball said. “We were roommates in college, so we go way back. He knows everything about me, I know everything about him. It’s a lot more comforting, knowing he’s right over there.
“He’s been everything I’ve needed for this transition.”
Ball’s most productive season came as a rookie for the Denver Broncos in 2013, when he carried the ball 120 times for 559 yards with four touchdowns and had 20 catches for 145 yards. He had just 55 carries in five games last season and caught nine passes for 62 yards.
Ball was released by the Broncos after training camp when he carried the ball 32 times for 68 yards in the preseason with four catches for 31 yards.
The Patriots reportedly brought in veteran free agent Steven Jackson for a workout Thursday. The Patriots likely will need to sign Jackson or promote Ball or Iosefa before Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans. That move would need to be made by 4 p.m. ET Saturday.
Thumbnail photo via Doug Kyed/NESN
Thumbnail photo via Montee Ball speaks to the media after signing to the New England Patriots' practice squad. Doug Kyed/NESN
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