Those who were not in and around the Pittsburgh Steelers locker room, us bloggers naturally included, surely did not know the extent to which the dissatisfaction with free agent running back LeGarrette Blount had ballooned in the time leading up to his prompt dismissal yesterday afternoon.
Blount was brought in during the offseason after the Steelers nixed their entire backfield behind Le’Veon Bell from a year ago, including Isaac Redman, Felix Jones, LaRod Stephens-Howling, and Jonathan Dwyer, who became the understudy after initially failing to make the roster.
The idea was, at least in theory, that he could help nurture the young back and show him how to be a professional, while providing the team insurance as a runner who can shoulder the load in case of an emergency, which they felt they did not have last year.
In fairness to Blount, he was reportedly serenaded by Mike Tomlin with a sales pitch that insinuated a respectable amount of playing time while still being squarely in the position of second fiddle. That never really came to fruition, which evidently upset the moody bruiser.
It’s hard to argue against the organization making the swift decision to release Blount after walking off the field on Monday night, despite what they might have originally envisioned when signing him.
Of course, the reality is that his production on the field made it a good bit easier over the course of the last six weeks, during which period he has remained under four yards per carry. With the exception of a 10-carry, 118-yard performance in Week Three, Blount has failed to impress, averaging just 2.7 yards per carry in the other 10 games played.
Now the young undrafted rookie Josh Harris gets an opportunity to introduce himself to the football world after accruing 41 yards on eight carries and 12 yards on three receptions in limited work during the preseason.
The Steelers will also have little choice but to try to get rookie Dri Archer more involved in the offense after logging just two snaps on Monday night, both passing plays. Todd Haley and the offense just have not been able to figure out how to incorporate the 4.2-speed of Archer into their scheme successfully as of yet.
With only Harris as the other supplementary back behind Bell, however, it stands to reason that there should be more room for opportunities, even if he has struggled to make the most of the ones he’s gotten, especially through the air.
With the Steelers on a bye week, it will be a good time for a refocusing of the offensive game plan to figure out how to work Harris and Archer into the running game behind Bell, who logged a career-high 33 carries in the last performance, though their snaps will still be limited behind the workhorse back.