TAMPA — Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Jeff Demps has spent his football career moonlighting as a track star. Or maybe he’s spent his track career moonlighting as a football player.
Either way, for the first time since leaving the University of Florida three years ago, Demps is completely devoted to football, which makes this the first time he has fully participated in his team’s offseason workout program.
The extra work Demps has put in on the football field this year is starting to pay dividends. Though he’s hardly a lock to earn a roster spot, Demps is definitely turning heads.
“Every day it seems like he’s done something to catch my eye,” Bucs coach Lovie Smith said of Demps.
Demps will have to continue to impress to earn a job with the Bucs. Working alongside Doug Martin, Mike James, Bobby Rainey and rookie Charles Sims, he’s one member of what may be the deepest position group on the team.
All but Sims have proven themselves capable of gaining big yards and making big plays in the clutch, but Smith made it clear following a workout in which Demps lost a fumble last week that he likes the former Olympic sprinter’s potential.
“I tend to look at that ceiling and see the things they can do,’’ Smith said. “He’s not perfect by any means, but he’s doing more (good than bad). I don’t remember (the fumble), but those other things, I remember all of them.”
Demps came to Tampa Bay as part of the April 2013 trade that sent running back LeGarrette Blount to New England. Demps, part of the 2012 U.S. Olympic silver-medal winning 4x100 meter relay team, did not join the Bucs last season until September, after participating in the IAAF World Championships.
He played in two games last season before going on injured reserve with a groin injury.