With reserve running back J.J. Taylor having been placed on the COVID-19/Reserve list on Monday, the New England Patriots hosted running back Devine Ozigbo for a workout on Tuesday, as first reported by ESPN’s Mike Reiss.
Born in Boston, Massachusetts on October 2, 1996, Ozigbo played his collegiate football for the University of Nebraska. He rushed for 2,196 yards on 419 carries with 21 touchdowns with the Cornhuskers. He began his NFL career as an undrafted rookie in 2019 with the New Orleans Saints. However, he was cut by New Orleans during the team’s final roster shedding at the conclusion of training camp.
The 25-year-old has spent the majority of his first two years as a pro as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who claimed him after being waived by New Orleans. During that time, he filled a reserve running back role, taking most of his snaps on special teams.
With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the shutdown of team facilities, Ozigbo was among those trying to make the best out of a tough situation amidst a challenging 2020 offseason. The running back found a means of satisfying his work ethic, while demonstrating his creativity in the process:
After being waived by the Jaguars at the conclusion of 2021 training camp, Ozigbo briefly returned to the Saints in early October, when New Orleans signed him off of Jacksonville’s practice squad. On October 30, the Saints released Ozigbo. In continuation of what has been a roller-coaster of a 2021 season, thus far, the Nebraska product was claimed by Jacksonville on November 1, and subsequently released on November 27. Throughout his near three-season tenure in the NFL, he has compiled 25 yards on 11 carries, as well as 13 receptions for 72 yards over 20 career games.
Reiss reported that if his workout with the Patriots goes well, Ozigbo is expected to be signed to the team’s practice squad. With Taylor out for the time being, he would serve as an additional depth option behind feature back Damien Harris, rookie Rhamondre Stevenson and veteran Brandon Bolden. The Patriots have not carried a running back on their practice squad, to date, in 2021. As a result, Ozigbo would be quite helpful to the team in practice, or as a reserve option in the unfortunate event of injury.
New England currently has two available spots on its 16-player practice squad, as well as one additional open spot on its 53-man roster.
The Patriots will return to the practice fields on Wednesday, December 1, as they prepare to visit their AFC East-divisional rival Buffalo Bills on Monday night, December 6, from Orchard Park, New York.