The New England Patriots welcomed a new face to their crowded running back room when they promoted Devine Ozigbo to the active roster. With Rhamondre Stevenson on the COVID-19 list, Bill Belichick decided to add yet another hard-nosed runner to his backfield.
Ozigbo, who was a very promising college player at Nebraska, was able to stick in the NFL as an undrafted free agent for the last three seasons, mostly with the Jacksonville Jaguars. While he did get a somewhat noteworthy diet of carries, those carries came amid constant losing in Duval County.
Ozigbo may have linked up with New England after the Stevenson news, but a depleted Jags roster tried to bring him back into the fold. He could’ve taken the easy way out and gotten guaranteed snaps in Jacksonville, but Ozigbo valued what New England brought to the table from a development perspective.
Ozigbo was offered the chance to return to the Jaguars’ roster, but he decided to remain with New England due to his belief in their coaching staff. He thinks that Ivan Fears and Vinnie Sunseri can help make him a better player than whoever is running the show in Jacksonville.
Devine Ozigbo chose the New England Patriots over the Jaguars.
Ozigbo ran for over 1,000 yards on 7.0 yards per carry during his final season with the Cornhuskers, which earned him a ticket to the Shrine Bowl. While his speed at 230 pounds was enticing, it wasn’t enough to help him get drafted. After two years in Jacksonville, Ozigbo ended up in New Orleans before Belichick came calling.
While the Jags may offer him a better chance at getting carries, especially after the injury to James Robinson, Ozigbo believes that Fears and Sunseri could get his career pointed in the right direction. Given the improvements we’ve seen in Stevenson and JJ Taylor, that’s not an outrageous assumption.
Ozigbo was always good for a few preseason highlights with Jacksonville every year. If they can get him to improve his ball-carrier vision and propensity for explosive plays in the same way they did with Stevenson and Damien Harris, he could become a consistent pro back.
Ozigbo might not be in New England for long, but he’s already done plenty to endear himself to the fanbase. Let’s hope that New England finds a role for Ozigbo when everyone is healthy again, as the way he plays the game meshes perfectly with Belichick’s vision for the ground game.