The New England Patriots signed running back LeGarrette Blount on Thursday following him being waived by the Pittsburgh Steelers on Tuesday. During his Friday talk with the media, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick indicated that Blount’s playing time moving forward into the final third of the season with the team is not set in stone.
“That will be up to him, just like everybody else,” Belichick said, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. “When he gets an opportunity, [it’s] how much he can take advantage of it, how much he can be productive and what he can do with those opportunities [that] will determine how many more there are. It’s totally up to him.
“We’ve talked about that. He knows that’s the way it is and he’s excited about it.”
Now that he’s with the Patriots again, Blount will have to split time with running backs Jonas Gray and Shane Vereen, who is mostly used as a passing down back. Gray is coming off of a 37 carry, 201 yard performance in Week 11, however, so Blount isn’t likely to cut too deep into his carries, at least initially.
Blount was waived by the Steelers because he walked off the field just prior to the Monday night game against the Tennessee Titans ending and it is believed that he acted out that way because of the lack of playing he received in not only that game, but the previous one against the New York Jets as well. In total, Blount played seven snaps in those two games and his five rushes resulted in zero yards being gained.
While Blount did have a healthy 4.10 yards per carry average during his time with the Steelers, he only averaged 2.79 yards per carry ever since he rushed for 118 yards on 10 carries in the Week 3 win over the Carolina Panthers.
In addition to the above, Blount hasn’t been good at all this season when it comes to short yardage situations as he only gained 21 yards on 16 carries when three or fewer yards were needed for a first down. Only nine of those 16 carries resulted in first downs.
It will indeed be interesting to see just how much Blount is used by the Patriots moving forward into the final six weeks of the season and the playoffs. Last year in the Patriots 43-22 playoff win over the Indianapolis Colts, Blount rushed for 166 yards and four touchdowns on 24 carries. That performance came just one game after the Patriots regular season finale win over the Buffalo Bills in which Blount rushed 189 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries.
What will be even more interesting is if the Patriots somehow wind up playing the Steelers in playoffs. The story lines leading up to such a meeting would surely include Blount’s exodus out of Pittsburgh.
“It didn’t work out. It’s the business part of the NFL,” Belichick said of Blount being waived by the Steelers. “He was released, he was available and we were able to work out to have him back here. We’re glad to have him back.”