New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount was able to crack the 53-man roster, and I was elated to see that both he and Brandon Bolden made the roster. While it was tough to see top return man Leon Washington go (the Patriots also had to eat up a $360,000 signing bonus due to that cut), the Patriots might believe that Josh Boyce, LeGarrette Blount, or somebody else on the roster with a bigger role on the team could be good enough as a return man.
Blount has a big build, so there are people who refer to him as a bruising back. I view that as a misnomer, as Blount isn’t all that good on goal-line carries, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans were more enamored with his agility than his power. Blount ran for over 1,000 yards as a rookie (something Bill Belichick also likes to point out), and he did so by being far more elusive than any other running back that year. Not only is Blount strong enough to break tackles in the open field, but he also makes up for his lack of vision with his acceleration and “shakes”. Blount is the kind of running back who will get a few carries for minimal gains but then bust out a long, highlight-reel run. In that sense, he’s the opposite of the more consistent Brandon Bolden, and those differing skill sets is one reason why I wanted both to make the roster.
Because Blount can make big plays, it seems like Bill Belichick and the Patriots could sap out some value on him on returns and harness that sort of playmaking ability. Belichick once said of Blount, “He’s got a lot of experience carrying the ball and he has good vision, good running skills and seemed to pick it up well. Most return guys aren’t that kind of size. I’d say it definitely puts him in the above-average category. No doubt about that.”
LeGarrette Blount stated that he has been learning about returns (he’s not experienced there, but he could end up being someone who finds returns as a newfound talent) from guys like Julian Edelman and Devin McCourty. He also stated, via WEEI, “I’ve been back there practicing it the whole time I’ve been here. [The Detroit game] was just my only chance to go out there and do it live — get some live action. I like it, though. It’s something different. That’s not usually a position that a guy my size is usually in. I just like the fact that I can go back there and hopefully make some things happen.”
I distinctly remember Bill Belichick saying that the team could use a guy like LeGarrette Blount, and that quote had me convinced that the Patriots were going to keep him on the roster. If he can prove to be a good return man, then Blount will have huge value for this team. I consider the trade to acquire him a steal, especially since Jeff Demps has seemingly disappeared. We’ll see if the Pats utilize Blount as a returner, but it is something intriguing to potentially watch for.