Patriots could super size kick return spot with addition of LeGarrette Blount
|09.02.13 at 2:10 pm ET|
FOXBORO — LeGarrette Blount has only been around Gillette Stadium for a few months, but he’s already laid claim to having one of the most impressive rides on the team.
The running back, who drives a 1993 Caprice — with 28-inch rims — has gotten a few looks when wheeling around Southeastern Massachusetts. Blount was asked Monday afternoon if the people of Foxboro have gotten used to seeing his “baby” around town.
“Of course. They love it. I love it. That’s my baby,” he said with a grin after practice on Monday. “Growing up, where I grew up in the ‘hood, I saw a lot of people driving cars like that, and I was like, ‘One day, I’m going to get one.’ And then, I did. I love it. I love it. People love the car.
“It’s a cool car — it’s really nice inside and everything. I had the whole thing customized, so it’s a pretty cool car. I like it.”
The big back — who checks in at 6-foot-0, 247 pounds — is not just a car guy. With the recent release of running back/kick returner Leon Washington, he also could become one of the bigger return men in recent NFL memory. He’s seen plenty of practice reps at the spot over the course of the summer, and returned one kick for 27 yards in the preseason against the Lions.
“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,” said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. “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.”
Blount, who has not worked as a returner at the NFL level in his three years in the pros, said Monday he’s done some work back there in college and high school. He welcomes the chance to show a little versatility.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Since the Patriots shipped Ellis Hobbs III out of town after the 2008 season, they have struggled to find consistency in the kick return game. Last season, using a variety of players back there — Devin McCourty, Julian Edelman, Wes Welker, Danny Woodhead and Matthew Slater — the Patriots averaged just 21.2 yards per kickoff return, 25th in the NFL.
Blount figures to be part of a mix this year that includes McCourty, as well as Edelman (who will still serve as the primary punt returner), Slater, rookie Josh Boyce and Shane Vereen. The 26-year-old Blount said he’s working with a lot of those same guys to try to get a sense of what sort of challenge he’s facing.
“Just some guys who have done it before: Julian, Devin, Slater. Just some guys who have done it before,” he said. “They’re giving me some key pointers — some tips about how it’s done. Some things to look out for. [I’m] just kind of look at those guys and ask some questions as I go.”
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