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On-and-off switch

Roster status doesn’t rattle Ventrone

By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / November 19, 2011

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FOXBOROUGH - Many players who are released never again make a professional team’s roster. But Patriots safety Ross Ventrone is not easily discouraged.

Ventrone has been waived eight times by the Patriots in the last two seasons, yet keeps coming back for more. And, thanks to that perseverance, Ventrone could be on the sideline Monday as the Patriots host Kansas City, 15 months after the team first sent him packing.

“He’s handled it great,’’ said coach Bill Belichick. “We’ve had other guys along with him that have been on and off the practice squad or the roster, but probably none more than him. He might lead the league in transactions. He has to be right up there.’’

Ventrone has been able to maintain his perspective.

“At least I’m leading the league in something,’’ Ventrone said before practice yesterday. “I don’t get discouraged. I just keep working hard and everything.

“I know things work out the way they do sometimes - the numbers system, different positions, and all that - and I just hope they do bring me back. They have so far.’’

Ventrone was a walk-on at the University of Pittsburgh - his hometown school - before transferring to Villanova, where he was a three-year starter. Last year, he signed with the Patriots after going undrafted, but was waived twice in the preseason, a preview of his future.

This season, Ventrone has been involved in 15 transactions, some as innocuous as being activated from the practice squad, some as traumatic as being cut.

“It is pretty unique,’’ Ventrone said. “Week to week, I just look at it at, hopefully, I’m going to play. I don’t look at it any differently as if I would be here the whole time.

“It’s unbelievable, just being on a team with these guys, coached by these coaches and stuff. Being part of an organization like this, that they want me around enough to keep bringing me back is a great honor.

“Every week, I have to get ready to play, whether I’m on the practice squad, whatever ups and downs there are, whatever my role is that week. I have to plan like I’m playing. One injury, and I’m out there. You never know what’s going to happen.’’

There are role players and specialists on every team, but not many have been as flexible as Ventrone.

“We have a good line of communication and understanding, myself and Nick [Caserio] and Ross,’’ Belichick said. “We’ve talked about the various situations that he has been a part of and involved in. I think he’s handled it great.

“You get prepared to play every week and if the coaches give you the opportunity to play, you play. If the coaches don’t, then as a player you take what you learned that week and get ready for next week. He’s done a great job with that, outstanding. He’s been ready.’’

Ventrone, who has played in five games in his career (all this season), has become accustomed to the unpredictability of his situation.

“I don’t know what’s going on in [the coaches’] minds, but it’s worked out for me, so far,’’ Ventrone said. “I’m glad to be here, and now I have another opportunity to help the team.’’

This is not the first time a member of the Ventrone family has filled a utility role with the Patriots. Ventrone’s brother Ray was an on-and-off member of the Patriots after he, too, went undrafted coming out of Villanova in 2005. Ray was waived a total of four times before finding a home with the Browns in 2009.

“Ross has improved a lot, as Ray did,’’ Belichick said. “Both of those guys didn’t actually come onto the team and just make such an impact that they just earned a roster spot right off the bat when they got here. They’ve worked hard. That’s certainly a common thread there.

“They worked hard, improved, continued to get better, became more versatile. They’ve done different things for us and given us depth in different spots on the team, whether it be in the kicking game or in the secondary.

“Ray played corner in preseason, Bubba [Ray] actually played some slot receiver on offense for us. You get a guy who can do a lot of things, who is tough and is dependable, there’s value to that.’’

Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at f_dellapa@globe.com.

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