Demps: Priority is track, not football

New England Patriots running back Jeff Demps recently suggested on a radio interview that his track career -- not his NFL career -- is his top priority at this time.

When asked what he would say to Patriots coach Bill Belichick if he asked Demps how he can handle the obligations of two sports, he replied, "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. And after the (track) 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."

In a follow-up question, Demps -- who was interviewed on Florida sports radio station AM 1040 -- was asked to clarify that his plan would be to return to the Patriots in the middle of the 2013 season because of his track schedule.

"Midseason," he reiterated. "I'll probably miss three, four, maybe five games."

The 23-year-old, who spent his rookie season on injured reserve, was asked if he feared his football career might not get off the ground because of the multiple obligations.

"No, not really," he said. "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. 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."

Demps is expected to compete for a spot as the Patriots' primary kick returner this offseason along with veteran Leon Washington, who recently was signed by the team. Demps joined the Patriots last August but soon after landed on season-ending injured reserve with a lower leg injury.

Bill Belichick was asked about Demps and his desire to run track at the recent NFL annual meetings.

"Well, we’ll deal with each player individually with their specific situations and circumstances, whatever they happen to be," Belichick said. "Alfonzo [Dennard] has some circumstances. Demps may have some circumstances. Players with injuries have different circumstances. We’ll deal with them all individually. In the end, we try to do the best we can, what’s best for the team. Same as we always do."

Can Demps' track schedule be worked around?

"We look at each player individually."

Did it take him by surprise, Demps wanting to run track?

"Well, again, we’ll just deal with each player individually."