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Demps practices as Patriots get healthier

The SportsXchange

The Patriots got their first "live" look at newly signed running back Jeff Demps, the Olympic relay sprinter and former Florida tailback who received guarantees of $200,000 to sign with New England last week.

Demps lined up at running back and also returned kickoffs in the Patriots' joint practice with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesday. The Buccaneers and Jets were considered finalists for Demps' services.

In Tuesday's portion of practice open to the media, Demps' first two chances -- a pass from Brian Hoyer and a short, bounding kickoff -- went through his hands.

Demps signed a three-year contract. He said he lost weight to participate in the London Olympics, where he ran the qualifying leg of the 4x100 relay for the United States team.

He rushed for over 2,400 yards and 25 touchdowns with the Gators but rarely trained with the team in the offseason while focusing on track.

The Patriots cannot place Demps on the physically unable to perform list, meaning he'll either be released, placed on injured reserve or make the team's final 53-man roster.

New England also activated two injured players from the physically unable to perform list -- offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer and tight end Daniel Fells.

"They've both been making good progress and we've taken another small step." Belichick said. "Each day is a small step but in the end all those steps end up covering a lot of ground, and those guys have done that. Taking them off (PUP), this is a small step. Working them into practice gradually is a small step, and if they continue to progress then we'll continue to do more. If we need to back off a little bit, then we'll back off a little bit until they're ready to resume that progress. We'll just take it day-to-day."
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