Bill Belichick Offers Legit Praise For This Patriots Practice Squadder

'His training's very impressive'


Nov 18, 2022

FOXBORO, Mass. — Bill Murray might never play a down for the Patriots, but he already is a good story.

The William & Mary product joined New England as an undrafted free agent in 2020 and spent his first two seasons in Foxboro as a practice-squad defensive lineman. However, when Murray arrived for training camp last summer, he was working as an offensive guard as part of a challenging position change.

Murray wound up getting cut before roster cutdowns but landed back on the Patriots practice squad before the season opener. As such, the 25-year-old became an afterthought among fans and reporters, with his progress behind the scenes largely a mystery. Murray also dealt with injuries late in camp and early in the regular season.

But Murray was elevated from the practice squad to the active roster for New England’s Week 7 home game against the Chicago Bears. He didn’t end up seeing the field, but the brief promotion seemingly indicated that Patriots coaches are confident that Murray could handle offensive line duties if called upon.

Ahead of Friday’s practice at Gillette Stadium, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick opened up on Murray’s development as an offensive lineman.

“Good, good,” Belichick said of Murray’s growth. “It’s unfortunate that he wasn’t able to put a full training camp, and even regular season, together. It’s kind of been in spurts. But, lately, it’s been good. His training’s good. He looks great physically.”

Belichick also touched on the things that have worked against Murray during his transition to the O-line.

“Of course, our practices are cut down now,” Belichick said. “One padded practice a week and that kind of thing. So, the opportunities for those players — developmental O- and D-linemen, linebackers, tight ends — it’s just limited in the line of scrimmage, with blocking and pass protection — all those kinds of things.

“Receivers and (defensive backs) can run routes and cover, but the development of the bigger guys in the interior part of the line is just limited.”

If you’ve listened to Belichick over the years, you probably know that he loves saying “nobody works harder than” when talking about certain players. During training camp, we compiled a list of players who’ve been bestowed the occasionally humorous honor. Receiver Tre Nixon joined the group during camp, with Belichick adding Kendrick Bourne to the group a couple of months later.

That brings us to Belichick’s final comment about Murray.

“But Bill does all he can,” Belichick said. “Nobody works harder than that kid. And again, physically, he looks great. And it’s impressive. His training’s very impressive. But, like a lot of young guys, what they really need are snaps, and so he gets as many as he can. So, making progress.”

At the end of the day, Murray’s improvement is nothing to joke about.

The Patriots are dangerously thin on the interior offensive line, with Mike Onwenu and rookies Cole Strange and Chasen Hines the only full-time guards on the active roster. Hines has been on injured reserve since Week 8, and Strange got benched for tackle Isaiah Wynn in the last two games. As for veteran James Ferentz, he’s more of a center.

So, there really isn’t that much that needs to go wrong for Murray to be in a position to see offensive guard snaps in an NFL game. The Patriots acknowledged as much when they elevated him from the practice squad a few weeks ago.

For now, Murray is a fun name and story to keep an eye on. But don’t be surprised if he eventually becomes more than just a neat anecdote.

Thumbnail photo via Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports Images
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