FOXBORO, Mass. — It’s been a good week for New England Patriots practice squad defender Ufomba Kamalu.
Kamalu won practice player of the week honors last week, and he drew rare praise from head coach Bill Belichick on Friday.
We call Kamalu a “defender” because we’re not quite sure how to categorize him, and it sounds like Belichick is having the same issue. At 6-foot-6, 300 pounds, Kamalu’s most natural fit would be at defensive tackle or as a five-technique defensive end. But Kamalu played outside linebacker and defensive end with the Houston Texans because of his athleticism. He ran a 4.88-second 40-yard dash coming out of Miami with a 7.32-second 3-cone drill, 31.5-inch vertical leap and 4.58-second short shuttle.
“I think we’re trying to figure it out, but he’s an interesting player to work with and a good player to work with,” Belichick said Friday. “He works hard, smart. He’s played outside linebacker to defensive end to defensive tackle. So, he hasn’t really done a lot in our defense. It’s been more scout team and so forth, drills.
“But he works hard, he’s smart. He picks things up. He’s … done and is able to do different things for us. We’ll see how it goes. But yeah, he’s an interesting guy. We don’t really have anyone like him from a skill-set standpoint, so I’d say we’re kind of trying to figure it out. But he gets better every day. So, we’ll keep working with him. We’ll see how it goes.”
The Patriots originally signed Kamalu to the practice squad early last month. The Patriots got a good look at the Miami product during joint practices with the Texans in the summer of 2017. He has three sacks in 13 career games with three starts.
The Patriots have been solid overall at rushing the passer this season, but they’ve had spurts of inconsistency. We’ll see if they figure out what Kamalu can offer before the season to earn a promotion to the 53-man roster. If he doesn’t, then they’ll likely sign him to a future contract after the season to continue working with him next summer.