Patriots

Patriots’ Bill Murray ‘grateful’ for opportunity in switching positions

Murray's been a defensive tackle since college and is playing on the offensive line in training camp.

Bill Murray is making a switch this preseason. Mary Schwalm/AP Photo

FOXBOROUGH — The first surprise of Patriots training camp came before practice even started on Wednesday.

Third-year pro Bill Murray walked onto the practice field donning a white No. 62 jersey instead of a blue one, meaning that he was playing on offense instead of defense. Murray has exclusively played defensive tackle since college and over the last two seasons, in which he’s been on the Patriots’ practice squad.

Murray, who played offensive tackle and guard in high school, shared Saturday how the change came.

“I’m just here to help the team out in any way possible,” Murray said. “Coach [Bill Belichick] wanted me to try out offensive line. So, I’m going to give it everything I’ve got and help out the team in any way I can.”

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Now four practices into the new situation, Murray admitted that the transition hasn’t been the easiest, even with his high school experience.

“It’s a whole new position. It’s very tough,” Murray said. “My teammates have been very helpful. My coaches have been very helpful. Every day, I’m just trying my best to get better, that’s all I can do.”

The key thing that Murray mentioned that the offensive line coaches are working on him with is the “fundamentals.” Murray mentioned that word several times on Saturday when asked on what he’s focusing on to help the transition to his new position.

There is one thing that Murray said he can take from being a defensive tackle in his move to the other side of the ball.

“Just regular football toughness,” Murray said when asked on the similarities between the two position. “Mentally being there and physically being there.”

Other than actually playing the position, Murray said there wasn’t too much he had to do differently over the offseason or ahead practice to get himself ready to play on the offensive line.

“I think with anything with football, you’ve just got to be familiar with everything,” Murray said. “You’ve got to watch film, know what you’re doing. It’s different, but in reality, it’s the same. Preparation for football and just in general.”

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Murray mentioned that making the change while playing for the team he’s spent the last two seasons playing for makes the move a bit easier, as well, saying “We’re all in the locker room together. We all get to know each other better. So, it hasn’t been too big of a transition.”

With the work he said he’s put in so far, Murray said there was one thing that surprised him a bit through the process so far.

“Everyone works their butt off,” Murray said. “That’s always the biggest surprise for me, is seeing how my body is able to perform different movements and all of that stuff, still just getting adjusted to it.”

Murray’s move isn’t unprecedented in the NFL, and certainly not in New England, either. The Patriots over Belichick’s tenure have moved players such as Julian Edelman and Devin McCourty to new positions from where they played in college. Edelman and Troy Brown both played receiver and corner when the team was struggling with injuries in the secondary at points, too.

Murray mentioned a former Patriot that made a similar move as him, and someone the coaching staff pointed to as inspiration that this could work.

“Stephen Neal, I could be wrong, he was a guy who was an All-American wrestler who started out with D-line and switched to the offensive line and had a hell of a career,” Murray said. “So, it’s definitely a positive knowing people have done it. But once again, I’m just excited for the opportunity and getting to it.”

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Neal and Murray’s careers leading up to the position change weren’t exactly the same. As Murray pointed out, Neal was an All-American wrestler for Cal State Bakersfield, but he didn’t play football in college. Murray joked that he hadn’t wrestled since middle school himself.

Murray has yet to play a down in an NFL game, so whatever chance gives him a path toward playing time, he’ll go for it.

“I’m excited. It’s an opportunity,” Murray said. “All I can be is grateful for this opportunity and take it in stride and get better every single day.”

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