Patriots

Why Pats' practice-squad RB turned down a larger role with Jaguars

Patriots

If you want a sense of the contrast between the New England Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars, just consider the case of Devine Ozigbo.

The 25-year-old running back joined the Patriots' practice squad on Nov. 30 after being waived by the Jaguars. While he was elevated to the active roster for New England's Week 15 game against the Indianapolis Colts, Ozigbo didn't play a snap and has yet to see the field with the Patriots.

According to ESPN's Mike Reiss, Jacksonville offered Ozigbo a spot on its active roster before he was elevated to New England's 53-man squad. Had Ozigbo taken the job, he would have been guaranteed at least three game checks.

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But Ozigbo declined the Jaguars' offer to remain in New England. Why? Here's Reiss:

"(Ozigbo) passed on (the job), in part because of his belief that he's improving as a player under Patriots running backs coaches Ivan Fears and Vinnie Sunseri."

Most players would jump at the opportunity to prove themselves at the NFL level, and Ozigbo likely won't get that chance in New England this season: The Patriots' crowded backfield includes Damien Harris, Brandon Bolden, J.J. Taylor and Rhamondre Stevenson, who missed Week 16 while in health and safety protocols but shouldn't be sidelined much longer.

 

But Ozigbo still believes he's in a better situation with New England under Fears, who joined the team in 1999 and is the Patriots' longest-tenured coach.

That's a testament to the Patriots' strong player development system under head coach Bill Belichick as well as the Jaguars' dysfunction: Jacksonville owns the NFL's worst record at 2-13 and recently fired head coach Urban Meyer after a disastrous tenure.

The Patriots and Jaguars face off Sunday at Gillette Stadium as New England aims to punch its playoff ticket.