LeGarrette Blount has been great late for Patriots running game
|10.02.13 at 2:35 pm ET|
FOXBORO — When he was with the Patriots from 2004 through 2006, running back Corey Dillon earned the nickname “Clock Killin” Corey Dillon because of his ability to pile up tough yardage late. With New England holding a second-half lead, Dillon could be depended on to consistently keep the chains moving and the clock going.
LeGarrette Blount doesn’t have the same mellifluous nickname (although some have suggested “Blount Force Trauma”), but when it comes to the New England offense, he seems to have inherited Dillon’s old job. Through four games, Blount’s best work has come late — 123 of his 155 rushing yards this season have come in the second half. That includes a 47-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter of last Sunday’s win over the Falcons.
The 6-foot, 250-pound Blount said Wednesday that he doesn’t necessarily relish the role of closer — in a perfect world, he’d run the ball all four quarters — but when it comes to the greater good, he’s willing to do whatever it takes.
“I want to go in there and carry it as much as possible, whether it’s in the first or second half,” said Blount after practice on Wednesday. “But whatever they need me to do, I’ll do it, no matter if it’s in the third quarter or fourth quarter. If they need me to close the game, I’m going to do that. If they need me to start the game, I’ll do that.
“[But] I don’t have a problem with what I’m doing now. It is what it is. However many times they tell me to carry the ball or however many times they want me to carry it, I’ll carry it.”
“I think he’s a good player and he’s played well,” said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. “He’s played well for us, again, going all the way back to the preseason — he has good run skills, he has good vision, he’s a big, strong guy, he’s got good speed, catches the ball well. He’s been a dependable player for us.”
Belichick referenced Blount’s work against Atlanta as being particularly impressive, but it wasn’t his touchdown run that drew the attention of the coach. Instead, it was a fourth-quarter rushing attempt that came up just shy of a first down.
“I thought the run that he had on the 3rd and 1 in Atlanta was about as good a run as we’ve had all year,” Belichick said. “I don’t know about the spot on that one. He did everything he could to get that first down. It was a very close play. Nobody will every talk about that one, but I think that’s as good a run as we’ve had. I don’t know if it gained any yards, but it was a good run.”
Of course, the touchdown run was impressive as well. He was able to make his way past the first line of defense — he said the offensive line was able to clear a “massive hole” for him — on his way to the second level. Then, it was just a matter of getting past a safety.
“It was a huge hole. It was a massive hole. It would have been crazy if I missed it,” he said when asked how the play developed. “After I got past that, there was nothing but a safety, and he took a bad angle and I took advantage of it and got to the end zone.”
On the TV replay, NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth noted that it was unfair that a back the size of Blount could run that fast. On Wednesday, he was asked if sometimes people underrate his speed.
“I don’t know about underrated. But at the same time, it’s obvious I’m not a 4.3, 4.4 guy,” he said. “I mean, the speed I do have, I use it to get the job done and ‘¦ I don’t know if people underrate it or not. If they do, that’s a good thing. That’s another thing I can take advantage of.
“It’s a part of being physical ‘¦ Bill tells us that a lot. We have to be physical. We have to be a hard-nosed, tough team, and running the football is a big part of that. That’s just kind of how he teaches us to run the football and that’s how we’re going to play.”
In addition to his work as part of New England’s running back by committee, Blount, who was acquired in a deal with the Bucs last spring for running back/kick returner Jeff Demps, has enjoyed his brief foray into special teams. He doesn’t have the typical frame of a kick returner, but through four games, he’s averaged 21 yards per kick return, good for 23rd in the league. He wouldn’t give himself a grade for what he’s accomplished on special teams to this point, but did make one specific note regarding his performance through four games.
“I don’t know. I don’t go look at the numbers or whatever. All I know is that I haven’t taken one to the house,” said Blount with a smile. “I enjoy it. I enjoy being on the field at any time, especially when there’s a chance to get the football in my hands. Of course, I love kick returning. I like doing it all.”