When New England Patriots running back Jonas Gray was promoted from the practice squad prior to Thursday night's 27-25 win against the Jets, it was a move to find answers after Stevan Ridley's season-ending knee injury. Gray earned the opportunity with his hard work and consistent presence on the scout teams during practice.
Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels attested to Gray's work ethic and desire to be a team contributor.
"Jonas works really hard," McDaniels said. "He's been well prepared and done a great job for us on the scout teams here. And certainly made the most of his opportunities in the preseason and just continues to prepare like he is playing each week."
Gray said earlier in the week, when asked about the potential of being called up from the practice squad, that he prepares every week like he is playing and that the Patriots' coaching staff doesn't treat practice squad players any differently from roster players.
In his first career NFL game, Gray had three carries for 12 yards -- a modest performance. But, he made his impact in blitz pickups and proved he could be a consistent back within the limited work he had.
"He had an opportunity to come up last week and help and I thought he did a good job in his role," McDaniels said. "Didn't play -- I think he played a total of 11 plays, if I am correct on it -- but, again, did a great job of running hard, runs behind his pads, stays low, not the easiest guy in the world to bring down because he's a thick guy with the ball."
At 5-foot-11 and 230 pounds, Gray packs a lot of power into his running and has the confidence to land blocks on safeties, linebackers and defensive linemen because he has the size to do so.
Based on Gray receiving the second-most snaps among Patriots running backs on Thursday night with 12 of 60 -- behind Shane Vereen's 48 snaps and trumping Brandon Bolden's one offensive snap -- Gray could see more action and become the secondary back in the Patriots' offense.
McDaniels liked Gray's performance throughout the offseason and in his first NFL game and is looking forward to working with his hard-working running back.
"He stepped in there and picked up the blitz a couple of times the other night," McDaniels said. "So just a young guy that is eager to do whatever is asked of him and we will continue to work with him and see if we can't continue to build on what we did the other night with him."