Rashod Berry’s name jumps off the New England Patriots’ roster. Why? Because of the four letters next to it:
In the latest example of Bill Belichick’s affinity for two-way players, the Patriots list Berry, an undrafted rookie out of Ohio State, as both a tight end and a defensive end.
In the team’s first two padded training camp practices, Berry donned a blue No. 62 jersey and worked with the edge rushers. The 23-year-old has yet to flash on the practice field but did receive a glowing review Tuesday from former Buckeyes defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley.
Hafley, now the head coach at Boston College, called Berry “an awesome pickup” for the Patriots during an appearance on WEEI’s “Ordway, Merloni & Fauria.”
“Last year at Ohio State, I was the defensive coordinator, but he was on offense for the first part (of the season),” Hafley explained. “I would tell (Ohio State head coach) Ryan (Day) all the time, ‘This kid’s explosive, he’s quick-twitch, he can get open.’ And they weren’t really using him that much.”
Berry’s primary role was as a blocking tight end; he totaled 17 catches and four touchdowns in 50 collegiate games. Late in his senior season, though, while star pass rusher Chase Young was serving a suspension, Hafley recruited Berry to defense, where he’d seen some action as a redshirt freshman.
Berry wound up playing both ways in two games last fall, becoming the first Ohio State player to do so since 2012.
“At the end of the year, I asked if I could get him on defense, and we started having him rush the passer,” Hafley said. “In the Penn State game, he beat a tackle so fast off the edge and hit the quarterback. I was like, ‘I wish I had this kid for two years.’
“So I like the fact that (the Patriots) list him as both (positions). I think he has tremendous upside, and if he puts in the work and does everything they ask, you’re going to see a kid who can flash athletically.”
Berry has his work cut out for him this summer. As a UDFA, he currently looks like a long shot to crack New England’s 53-man roster.
Plenty of undrafted players have stuck in New England in the past, though, and Berry’s multifaceted skill set makes him an intriguing prospect.