After leaving the field early in the Steelers’ embarrassing loss to the Titans last night, they have released LeGarrette Blount. The obvious question becomes whether or not the Patriots should scoop up the guy who rushed for 166 yards and 4 TDs 10 months ago in the playoffs against the Colts.
But this question comes at an interesting time, because the Pats now have a new guy who ran for 4 TDs and even more yards in Jonas Gray. It’s easy to say that Gray will fill the hole that Blount left, and that the Pats no longer need to consider Blount.
But I don’t see why not give him at least a workout. I wouldn’t try to take many of Jonas Gray’s carries, but I think there is a lot we can learn from his performance Sunday Night where he rolled through Indianapolis with more fury than George Sherman rolling through Georgia.
While Gray had 37 carries, the next highest rusher in terms of attempts was… Julian Edelman… with 2 carries. Shane Vereen only rushed once. As Bill Barnwell masterfully pointed out, the Patriots’ game plan on Sunday night was to use Cameron Fleming as the 6th offensive lineman, create enough holes, and have a disciplined runner hit the holes at any cost. That’s why the Pats chose Gray over Vereen on over 95% of those non-Edelman carries.
So is Gray really the only guy for that role? And if he is, do we really want him to be? Obviously a guy who was on the practice squad 5 weeks ago will not get 37 carries every game, but if the Pats are going to try to use the gameplan that demands such disciplined running, wouldn’t it be nice to have a different guy as an option?
Blount should never viewed as a significant threat to Gray’s carries, let alone his roster spot. But I wouldn’t mind if he was a threat to the roster spots of either Brandon Bolden or James White. Bill Belichick won’t cut White, who was a 4th rounder 7 months ago, because there’s no way that White’s value in his eyes has gone decreased that much. So the question is whether or not you’d rather have Brandon Bolden than Legarrette Blount.
I’d take Blount. He’s done it before for the Pats, specifically within the past year, while Bolden hasn’t done much at all. Whatever personality issues Blount may have had in Pittsburgh shouldn’t be much of a concern, because he generally seemed to love Belichick, and he really seemed grateful for the opportunity that he got last year. Of course, a guy with a checkered past who was on his last chance in New England shouldn’t be stupid enough to be a bad teammate in Pittsburgh, but it seems like a safe bet to think that Blount will be on his best behavior for 2.5 months in Foxboro. Remember, Blount was a factor last year when Stevan Ridley was on the roster, and now Ridley’s done for the year. Blount’s not a long term answer, but he’s a fine 3rd running back for 2 months.