Demps practiced with the team for the first time Wednesday. Patriots running backs coach Ivan Fears tossed the 5-foot-7, 175-pounder into one-on-one drills, saying the former Florida running back showed courage off the bat.
"Well, I always had a football background," Demps told reporters. "I'm a football player first, so I'm used to just jumping right into it coming off of track season. So it was basically the same transition except the guys are a lot bigger."
Demps said he picked the Patriots for the "family-based" feel of the team, but it's no guarantee he makes the 53-man roster. He's 15 pounds below his normal playing weight and acknowledged the challenge of "getting back into that football shape and learning the plays."
Demps, who hasn't touched a football since January, has two preseason games to show what he can do. The Olympic medal is a nice story, but Demps is just another face in the crowd in New England. His NFL career is more likely to start on the practice squad than under the bright lights.