How will LeGarrette Blount fit in with Patriots?
Now that he’s on his way to New England – a result of Saturday’s trade – it’s a good time to ask how former Bucs running back LeGarrette Blount will fit in with the Patriots.
The early answer, based on how things appear on the surface, is that Blount finds himself in a similar predicament with the defending AFC East champions.
They, like the Bucs, have an established starting running back in Stevan Ridley, who had 290 carries for 1,263 yards in 2012. That’s nearly as many attempts as the Bucs’ Doug Martin, who rushed 319 times for 1,454 yards last season. Martin’s big share of the workload reduced Blount to a limited role, and Blount might or might not see a change in New England.
The Patriots lost Danny Woodhead in free agency to the Chargers, and that opens up some playing time in the backfield. But Woodhead was essentially a third-down back, and that’s not an area that Blount has shown himself to be an asset. Patriots backup Shane Vereen has the inside track at that job after rushing 62 times in 2012.
Quarterback Tom Brady and his offensive coaches are demanding of their players, with little tolerance for mistakes. That means that Blount won’t be able to have miscues in complicated pass protections, a great source of irritation for the Bucs coaching staffs both under Raheem Morris and Greg Schiano.
So, unless Blount can carve out a role on early downs as a complement to Ridley, he might have an equally difficult time getting on the field in New England.
But there’s one good thing Blount has going for him: Any time a player has the benefit of being seen by fresh sets of eyes, he has a chance to make a first impression all over again. The Patriots, in part because they gave up a draft pick for him, are going to have an open mind about Blount. They will know the scouting report on him going in, but they’ll want to see how he specifically fits in their system and how that, perhaps, makes him a weapon.
Judging by coach Bill Belichick’s statements on Saturday, Blount will get a fair shake.
“I think he's a good football player. He's had a lot of production,” he said, according to the Boston Herald. “I think he got into a situation last year where they obviously went with Martin, but I think this guy is a good football player. We're happy to add him to our team.
"I think we felt like we had an opportunity to get a good player at a price we thought was fair, good value for what we gave up, and so that's why we did it.”