The New England Patriots had several noteworthy performances during Friday’s preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles, as Stevan Ridley, Tom Brady, LeGarrette Blount, Kenbrell Thompkins, the entire offensive line, Joe Vellano, and Dane Fletcher all looked very impressive. Blount’s 101-yard outburst came mostly on the strength of a crazy 51-yard run that featured more awful tackling from the Eagles, and he received some more praise from Bill Belichick today.
The Patriots head coach said, via ESPN Boston, “He’s a big back who can catch and run. I think he showed those skills throughout the course of his career. The player we had [Jeff Demps], we weren’t really able to get on the field. We felt that we would rather LeGarrette and he’s done a good job for us. I don’t think there is any question about his skills. They’re pretty evident and they have been through the course of his career. Tampa has a great back [Doug Martin], I certainly understand their situation, a Pro Bowl back last year as a rookie. I have a lot of respect LeGarrette and what he’s done throughout his career. He’s has a good spring for us and a good training camp for us. I think he helps us.”
I’ve always loved the trade the Patriots made to acquire LeGarrette Blount from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, because they basically gave up a practice squad player (seventh-round pick) and a player who wouldn’t have done much in Jeff Demps (plus, the Pats already signed an elite returner in Leon Washington) for a former 1,000-yard rusher with talent and upside in Blount.
Although Blount isn’t a consistent rusher, there is no denying his talent and elusiveness despite his lack of strength and poor performance last season. Greg Schiano treated him poorly in Tampa once he came in and clearly wanted a three-down back in Doug Martin, and he decided to kick Blount to the curb. While I don’t entirely blame him, I’m quite glad the Patriots have him on the roster.
The most telling thing about Belichick’s quote is this, “I think he helps us.” That essentially translates to, “Right now, he’s going to make the roster.” Or, at least, that’s what I got out of it, and Blount has the inside track, even if he is competing with Brandon Bolden for the gig as the No. 4 RB on the roster. I honestly see the winner (if both don’t make it) ending up with the second-most carries on the Patriots, especially if it’s Blount.