FOXBORO, Mass. — Running back Jeremy Hill faces a fierce battle to make the New England Patriots’ 53-man roster, but he knows this is what he signed up for.
In fact, when asked why the former Cincinnati Bengals running back chose to sign a one-year, $1.5 million contract this offseason with the Patriots, Hill immediately cited competition.
“Just the competition and obviously what the coaches told me,” Hill said Tuesday at Gillette Stadium. “That I was going to have to earn everything that I got here. And that’s what I wanted to hear. I feel like a lot of places can say this and say that, but in reality, no one really knows, and I’m glad they were up front and real about that, and that’s something I respected about Coach (Bill) Belichick and Coach (Josh) McDaniels, and that’s what kind of drew me to come here.”
Many players would prefer a guaranteed role, but it seems Hill, who had just 37 carries for 116 yards last season, is set out to prove he’s going to earn his snaps.
Hill is joined by veterans Rex Burkhead, James White, Mike Gillislee and Brandon Bolden and rookies Sony Michel, a first-round pick, and Ralph Webb, an undrafted free agent, on the Patriots’ running back depth chart. The Patriots kept five running backs last season, though they previously only have rostered four. So, Hill will be competing with Gillislee, Bolden and Webb for one or two spots along with roster locks Burkhead, White and Michel.
Hill is used to sharing a backfield. He did so in Cincinnati for four years with Burkhead, Gio Bernard and Joe Mixon. And based on comments made Tuesday, it seems he enjoys it.
“Longevity. You can go in there and get 400 carries year in and year out, but playing in this league, not many guys can do that,” Hill said. “And so, when you go somewhere with a lot of competition in the backfield, obviously, you want to be out there playing, but in the big scheme of things, your health is all you have at the end of the day, because you only have one body. I think for us, I don’t know what they’re going to do, but from the past they’ve rotated. I’m pretty sure that’s something they’re going to do again.”
Hill said he had a few other offers in free agency before the Patriots came calling, and that he was surprised New England was interested in his services.
“Before free agency started and kind of after a few days of free agency, their name never got mentioned once,” Hill said. “Then I got a call they wanted me on a visit, and I jumped on the plane as quick as I could. I’m excited about the opportunity. …
“This was the first visit I had, and just being able to meet coaches and talk to coaches, that kind of convinced me to come here.”
Thumbnail photo via Doug Kyed/NESN
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