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Jeff Demps talks more about prioritizing track over football

03.25.13 at 1:01 am ET

Don’t pencil Jeff Demps in as part of the 2013 Patriots just yet.

The returner/running back, who spent the 2012 season on injured reserve as he got acclimated to life in the NFL, went on a Florida radio station over the weekend and sounded like someone who is more focused on track than football at the moment.

Speaking with Sports Talk Florida, the former Olympic sprinter talked about track being his top priority at the moment, and told host David Baumann he was willing to come back to football sometime “midseason,” once the track season was done, adding that midseason was “three, four, maybe five games.”

“Listen coach, I want to do both, but in order for me to get to where I want to be on the track and field side, it’ll take a full year of preparation,” Demps said when he was asked by Baumann what his pitch to Patriots coach Bill Belichick might be when it comes to doing both football and track.

“And after the season, if you guys are willing to let me come back — you know, probably midseason — and work out and train and get ready for the season, I’ll be able to do that. If not, then I guess I’ll just focus on running.”

And if that was unacceptable to the Patriots?

“If I’m not able to do football anymore, it’s kind of like I’m just opening up another chapter of my life — and it’s on the track and field side,” Demps said. “Like I said, I’ll be a rookie in the game, and I still have a lot to learn, even though I did it for four years in college and throughout high school. I still haven’t seen or ran with any other big-name guys or the top guys in the world. I’m looking forward to it, I’m definitely looking forward to it.”

However, it would appear that the Patriots have given themselves a small measure of insurance with the recent acquisition of Leon Washington, a veteran who has been considered one of the league’s best return men over the last decade and could bring some stability to an occasionally erratic New England return unit.

While Demps has made noise about doing both track and field and football in the past, it sounds like he’s clearly made track a priority over football, and that can’t make the folks in Foxboro too happy. The team has a year invested in him ‘€” he signed a three-year, $1.451 million deal in late August ‘€” and the fact that they stashed him on injured reserve last season with a (ahem) leg injury instead of cutting him loose speaks to just how much they think of his abilities.

Here’s the interview with Demps and Justin Gatlin:

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