FOXBORO, Mass. — There’s a reason LeGarrette Blount has been getting more and more carries recently, and it’s not all related to Stevan Ridley‘s fumblitis.
In fact, fellow running back Brandon Bolden got the first shot at the starting share of carries in Week 13 after Ridley had fumbled in three straight games. Bolden was ineffective, though, rushing just three times for two yards, so Blount was inserted as the bell cow. The fourth-year running back has shined since taking over the starting role. He has 31 carries for 136 yards and a touchdown in three games. He has led New England in carries and yards for three straight weeks.
Blount appears to be running differently, too. He’s lowered his pad level, appears less hesitant and is breaking tackles on nearly every play. Bill Belichick praised his running back for his rare set of skills.
“When you watch him run, you don’t think he’s 250 pounds,” Belichick said. “But he’s 250 pounds or 245, whatever he is. But he has, I would say, rare quickness and athleticism for that size as well as power. We’ve seen him run through plenty of tackles but he’s also nifty and quick enough in the open field that he certainly doesn’t look like a full back running the ball. There’s a difference when [James] Develin carries it and LeGarrette carries it. We all see that style difference. He’s got a pretty unique skill set that way.”
Belichick compared Blount to a Kansas City Chiefs legend: “The Nigerian Nightmare,” Christian Okoye.
“To be that big and have that kind of quickness and movement skills, relative to the Christian Okoyes or Brandon Jacobs, those guys who, they’re downhill runners but I’d say LeGarrette has more quickness and more wiggle than some guys like that that come to mind. He’s got a good running skill set, very good.”
It’s looking like the Patriots got a steal when they shipped Jeff Demps and a 2013 seventh-round pick to the Buccaneers for Blount. He has 113 carries for 507 yards and three touchdowns on the season. He’s even getting involved in the passing game lately. Blount has caught a pass in each of the last two weeks.
When New England traded for Blount, it appeared he would not get much play with Ridley in front of him. But when Ridley’s fumbling issues came to a head, New England needed a fill-in.