FOXBORO, Mass. — LeGarrette Blount’s Pittsburgh Steelers tenure ended rather unceremoniously midway through the 2014 season. Eleven games, two rushing touchdowns, an arrest for marijuana possession and a pink slip.
But during the New England Patriots running back’s brief stay in the Steel City, Blount developed a friendship with Steelers back Le’Veon Bell that, according to Bell, remains strong to this day.
“We’re still very tight,” Bell said Wednesday in a conference call with New England media. “Me and him still talk a lot to this day. Obviously, he’s doing great things on the field. I watch his games, he watches my games, we still critique each other and talk about some of the things we did good, some of the things we did bad with one another.”
It’s easy to guess what “bad” thing Bell was talking about. After all, he was with Blount when a Ross Township (Penn.) police officer pulled their car over and unearthed a 20-gram bag of weed. The arrest resulted in a two-game suspension for Bell and a one-game ban for Blount, served at the start of the 2015 season.
“We talk about our games and stuff like that,” Bell continued, “and I think off the field, obviously, our relationship is still very tight, just like it was (in Pittsburgh). He’s obviously doing great things on the field. He’s doing a heck of a job running the football, and he did a great job of protecting the football when Tom Brady wasn’t playing and really filling in and stepping up. He’s been doing a lot of good things, so I’m looking forward to playing against him this week.”
Blount helped carry the Patriots’ offense during Brady’s four-game Deflategate suspension, going over 100 yards in Week 2 against the Miami Dolphins and again the following week against the Houston Texans.
Bell, whose Steelers host the Patriots this Sunday, was suspended for Pittsburgh’s first three games this season for missing a drug test. In the three games since his return, he’s amassed 440 all-purpose yards and ranks third in the NFL in yards per carry.
Some additional notes from Wednesday:
— Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater announced him and his wife are hosting a fundraiser for those affected by Hurricane Matthew next Tuesday night at Splitsville at Patriot Place.
The event, called “Matthew vs. Matthew,” will feature appearances from several Patriots players and several Pats-themed raffle items, with proceeds benefiting Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief organization.
“We have family in the Carolinas, and obviously living up here in the Boston area, we’ve met a lot of people that have ties to Haiti,” Slater said. “Hurricane Matthew has obviously had a devastating affect on a lot of people, so we wanted to do something that would provide some relief efforts for the people affected by it.”
For more information on the event, click here.
— Patriots safety Devin McCourty offered some interesting insight on the Steelers’ offense.
For instance, McCourty called Pittsburgh the best “gadget play” team in the NFL because of its ability to run trick plays with multiple different skill players.
“Because of how many good skill players they have, they do different things to get them the ball,” McCourty said. “A lot of times you play against a team where if they run reverses, it’ll usually be a ‘reverse guy.’ But you play against them, it could be (Sammie) Coates, it could be Antonio Brown, it could be (Darrius) Heyward-Bey. That’s what makes it tough: You don’t know who the gadget guy is going to be.
“They have so many good skill players that it could really be anybody. And that’s not even naming Le’Veon Bell in the backfield, who splits out at wide receiver and does a ton of those things. So I just think with the amount of good skill players, it makes it (the Steelers) the toughest, probably, team we’ve seen gadget play-wise, just because you just don’t know. On any given play, it could be any one of them.”
McCourty also broke down what separates Steelers starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who will miss Sunday’s game after undergoing knee surgery, from backup Landry Jones.
“The ball will come out quicker, because there’s no one like Ben,” McCourty said. “Ben sits back there with two guys hanging on him, stiff-arms one, slides to the left, slides to the right, then throws the ball. You just don’t find many quarterbacks that can do that. The ball will come out quicker (with Jones) just from the standpoint that it’s hard to do what Ben does back there.”
Thumbnail photo via Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports Images