The Patriots continue to search for ways to improve their return game.

With running back Danny Woodhead carrying the load last season, New England ranked 29th in average yards per return. Last week, the team signed running back Jeff Demps, who won a silver medal as a member of the 4 x 100 relay team at the Olympic games to help in this regard, but continue to explore all options.

Devin McCourty, who averaged 25.4 yards per return as a senior at Rutgers, could be a possible candidate. After practicing with the return unit during camp, he was given the chance to show what he can do against Tampa Bay and returned a pair of kicks for 46 yards.

McCourty has not returned a kick since the preseason of his rookie year but said he felt comfortable doing so against the Bucs.

“Once you do it a couple times, you get used to it,” McCourty said. “I think a lot of returners use what they have, their skill set, going out there and running hard. … It’s cool as a defensive guy to have the chance to get the ball in your hands.”

Cuts coming: With cut-down day on the horizon, a hint of anxiety has begun to creep into the Patriots’ locker room. New England currently has 85 men on its roster and will need to release 10 to get in compliance with league rules. “There’s a little bit of stress that comes with that,” wide receiver Matthew Slater said. “But I think every day around here is an up-tempo, tense day.”

Arrington update: Cornerback Kyle Arrington left Friday’s game at halftime with an apparent injury and did not return. It has since been learned that he suffered a back injury. It is not currently considered to be serious.

Nick Underhill covers the Patriots for Follow him on Twitter @CBSSportsNFLNE or @nick_underhill.