Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Ventrone clings to longshot hopes
By Mike Rodak
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Rookie Ross Ventrone got a second chance to make it in New England on Monday, when the safety was re-signed by the team that cut him a week earlier.
Following his release, Ventrone stayed with family in the area, working out and waiting for the phone to ring again.
“When I wasn’t here, I was miserable. It was boring,” Ventrone said after Tuesday’s practice. “It wasn’t a vacation.”
The team had told Ventrone to “stay ready” after being waived.
“So much stuff happens, with every team with rosters. I was just hoping something would happen, and it did,” he said.
Signed by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent after April’s draft, Ventrone stuck with the team through its first preseason game against the Saints.
In the game, Ventrone was injured while working on the kickoff coverage unit. His injury wasn’t disclosed, and it was unclear whether it played a role in his release. On Tuesday, Ventrone declared himself healthy.
Trying to carve a role in special teams is nothing new for Ventrone. His older brother, Ray, played parts of four seasons with the Patriots, making a name for himself on special teams.
While still taking his brother’s counsel, Ross still considers himself a different player than his brother, who is currently with the Cleveland Browns. “He’s a great player and I like being compared to him,” Ross said. “But I don’t try to be like him at all. I’m my own guy and I think people notice that.”
The comparisons are easy to draw, though. Ray wore No. 41 while in New England, the same number Ross wears when patrolling the Patriots’ secondary in practice. They both share a small stature, with Ross standing just 5-foot-8 inches tall.
“I’ve never worried about my size and height,” Ventrone said. “There’s nothing I can do about it. It’s never hindered me in any way. I’d get the same result if I was bigger.”
The two brothers were also standout players at Villanova, with Ross winning an NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision title with the Wildcats last season.
“To finish my college career like that, it was awesome," he said. "It’s helped springboard me into this.”
The brutal reality of the NFL will likely hit Ventrone again in two weeks, as he is unlikely to escape the team’s final cutdown. His best chance of staying with the team will be making a practice squad on which his brother spent his entire rookie season.
And to Ventrone, that doesn’t seem like a problem.
“I love the whole organization, the program, what I’ve been through so far with all the players, all the team,” he said. “I’m very happy to be back here.”