FOXBORO, Mass. — When you think of Jeremy Hill, the term “dual threat” doesn’t come to mind. After all, the New England Patriots running back caught just four passes for the Cincinnati Bengals all last season.
But make no mistake: Hill is willing to do whatever it takes to get him playing time on the Patriots.
“I think that’s what every back in this league has to pride themselves on,” Hill said Wednesday after the Patriots’ practice at Gillette Stadium. “Doing multiple things out of the backfield that keep you on the field, so you can be on the field for third downs and they don’t have to worry about you in blitz pickup or catching the ball. I think every back wants to do that.”
After an injury-plagued 2017 campaign in Cincinnati, Hill shed some pounds this offseason and has looked more versatile this preseason: He’s rushed for a total of 82 yards on 17 carries with a touchdown while adding two catches for 14 yards through the team’s first two exhibition games.
Again, Hill’s reputation is more that of a plodder, but the 25-year-old was quick to point out he played a significant role in LSU’s passing game while in college. In 2013, Hill caught 18 passes for 181 yards under offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, who previously had worked with dual-threat extraordinaire LaDainian Tomlinson while serving as the San Diego Chargers’ offensive coordinator.
“He was telling me, LT was amazing, not only running the ball, but also catching it out of the backfield,” Hill said of Cameron. “That’s something he pushed me every day to do, and something that I got a lot better at under his tutelage.”
Hill is fighting for a roster spot in a crowded Patriots backfield that currently includes Rex Burkhead, James White, Mike Gillislee, Sony Michel, Brandon Bolden, James Develin and Henry Poggi. Another way he can ensure a roster spot — especially on a Bill Belichick-coached team — is prove his worth on special teams.
That’s not Hill’s area of expertise, but again, he’s willing to do whatever it takes. He’s played a total of 10 special teams snaps so far this preseason, including eight in Week 1 against the Washington Redskins.
“The more you can do, the better,” Hill added. “I think that’s something that coaches always say. So, yeah, obviously special teams is a huge factor, especially in the kicking game. It’s a third of the entire game, so obviously that’s something that’s very important.
“So, if you can make an impact in that phase of the game, you’re definitely helping your team and it’s obviously helping you win games. Definitely, that’s something I pride myself on, being better at special teams. It’s something I can help (with on) this team, for sure.”
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