Why Ross Ventrone is uniquely qualified to be a Patriot
|11.18.11 at 8:06 pm ET|
FOXBORO — There is not a single player who knows the ups and downs and ins and outs of being with the Patriots more than safety and special teamer Ross Ventrone.
When you are involved in 21 transactions from the day you were signed as an undrafted free agent out of Villanova in April 2010, you get used to the roller coaster that is being a fringe NFL player.
“To be bounced around like that, it is pretty unique but week to week, I just look at it hopefully, I’m going to play,” Ventrone said Friday. “I’m going to prepare like I’m going to play. I don’t look at it any differently than if I was here the whole time.
“I don’t get discouraged. Just keep working hard. I know things work out the way they do sometimes and the number system and different positions and everything. I just hope they bring me back and so far, so I’m just working every day to get better and better and help the team the best I can.”
But Ventrone, trying to follow in the footsteps of his brother Ray, has not just accepted it, he’s fully embraced it. And in the process, won the football heart of Bill Belichick.
“Great, he’s handled it great,” Belichick raved Friday, two days after Ventrone, who has been involved in 16 transactions in 2011, with his latest coming on Wednesday when he was signed back to the practice squad after being released on Monday. Just last Saturday, he was signed off the practice squad and added to the active roster for the Jets game.
Such is life for the man who calls himself @RustyBenson35 on Twitter. Belichick took Ventrone aside shortly after practice on Aug. 10 for an extended conversation. Hours later he was released. But clearly, part of that conversation was conveying the message that the Patriots and Belichick had every intention of bringing him back on the roster time after time because they liked his work ethic.
“We’ve had other guys along with him that have been on and off the practice squad or the practice squad or the roster but probably none more than him. He might lead the league in transactions. He has to be right up there,” Belichick said. “But he’s handled it great. We have a good line of communication and understanding, myself and Nick [Caserio] and Ross. We’ve talked about the various situations that he has been a part of and involved in. I think he’s handled it great.”
Ventrone says the yo-yo motion hasn’t affected his love or focus for football.
“I never know what’s going to happen. I just hope for the best and just keep working and getting after it,” said Ventrone, who added he’s not worried about another NFL team that might pick him up off waivers, ending his time in New England.
“I don’t really get into that really much. It hasn’t happened. I’m here. This is where I’m at right now. That’s really all I’m focused on at the moment. Just worried about the Chiefs right now.
“Just in the knowledge of the game. Just being around this organization and the players I’m around. The knowledge of football I’ve gained through game-planning and schemes and all that. Week-to-week, just learning about other teams and then our schemes and being able to apply it on the football field so I can become a better football player and able to make plays that way.”
Like Ross, Ray Ventrone played at Villanova and matriculated to the Belichick Patriots.
“Ross has improved a lot, as Ray did,” Belichick said Friday. “Both of those guys didn’t actually come onto the team and just make such an impact that they just earned a roster spot right off the bat when they got here. They’ve worked hard. That’s certainly a common thread there. [They] worked hard, improved, continued to get better, became more versatile. They’ve done different things for us and given us depth in different spots on the team, whether it be in the kicking game or in the secondary. Ray played corner in preseason, Bubba [Ray] actually played some slot receiver on offense for us. You get a guy who can do a lot of things, who is tough and is dependable; there’s value to that.”
Ross knows full well what happened to older brother Ray. He worked hard enough in two stints with the Patriots and one with the Jets that he earned a spot on the Browns in 2009. After one season there, Ventrone signed a three year, $2.2 million deal on March 6, 2010 to stay in Cleveland.
Ross maintained Friday that his brother didn’t have any special advice for succeeding under Belichick.
“We talk but he’s doing his thing and I’m doing my thing and he just tells me to keep working hard,” Ross said. “I know what I have to do here in terms of working and following the game plan.”
“It’s unbelievable. Just being on a team with these guys and being coached by these coaches and being a part of an organization like this, and just that they want me around enough that they keep bringing me back, it’s a great honor.”
Belichick said Friday he’s not worried about how a guy like Ventrone handles the ups and downs of getting released, signed to the practice squad or added to the active squad.
“Look, in the end you play in a game or you don’t ‘ that’s what it comes down to,” Belichick said. “You get prepared to play every week and if the coaches give you the opportunity to play, you play. If the coaches don’t, then as a player you take what you learned that week and get ready for next week. He’s done a great job with that. Outstanding. He’s been ready. We called him up a couple times, sometimes we had a feeling that we were going to be doing that but other times it’s really been kind of a last minute thing. He’s always been well prepared, ready to go. We throw him in there when he kind of least expects it in practice and he’s prepared and he does a good job.”
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