Belichick: Blount must earn his PT

ByMike Reiss ESPN logo
Friday, November 21, 2014

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has made no promises to running back LeGarrette Blount about his playing time after the team signed him to a two-year contract Thursday.

"That will be up to him, just like everybody else," Belichick said Friday morning. "When he gets an opportunity, [it's] how much he can take advantage of it, how much he can be productive and what he can do with those opportunities [that] will determine how many more there are. It's totally up to him.

"We've talked about that. He knows that's the way it is, and he's excited about it."

Speaking later Friday, Blount agreed.

"Bill is a straight-forward shooter, he's a 100 percent honest person," he said. "I truly believe that if I do what I have to do, then I'll make myself a role on this team. Whatever I have to do, I'm going to do it to be productive."

Blount didn't appear to be too excited about not getting a carry in the Pittsburgh Steelers' victory over the Tennessee Titans on Monday night, reportedly leaving the field before the game was over. Those actions seemed to be the catalyst for the Steelers to release him Tuesday. Blount said he was surprised by his release.

"I wasn't expecting it," he said Friday.

After Blount went unclaimed on waivers, when a team would have had to pick up his existing contract, the Patriots pounced.

Belichick revisited how the team had attempted to re-sign Blount in the offseason before he landed in Pittsburgh on a two-year, $3.85 million contract, which was a bit richer than the Patriots were willing to go at the time.

"It didn't work out. It's the business part of the NFL," Belichick said. "He was released, he was available, and we were able to work out to have him back here. We're glad to have him back."

Asked how much it was a factor that Blount has been with a team this year, and thus has been part of a strength and conditioning program, he said, "We know the player, we have a history with him, I think that was the biggest part of it."

Blount practiced with the Patriots for the first time Thursday, donning temporary jersey No. 60. He will wear No. 29, the same number he wore with New England last season.

"I didn't know if he was a new offensive lineman or long snapper," cracked defensive lineman Vince Wilfork. "It's good to see him back here. Hopefully he'll be able to help us. We're looking forward to it. He kind of knows what we do around here, so hopefully he'll pick up where he left off."

The 247-pound Blount will team with 230-pound Jonas Gray as the Patriots' two top bigger running backs, complementing 205-pound "passing back" Shane Vereen.

Gray totaled 37 carries for 201 yards and four touchdowns against the Colts last Sunday, earning AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors.

"We kind of knew of each other beforehand, and the guys here have nothing but good things to say about him," Gray said Thursday. "It's kind of funny, that running back position, they always talk about the camaraderie, so right away, even on the practice field, we acted like we've known each other for a long time.

"I'm excited, man. I think it's going to be something good for us. For a team, what we want to do long-term, when these cold-weather games start coming up, I think it's going to help. He's a great guy to learn from, too, and I think we're going to both motivate each other."

On Friday, Blount was reluctant to talk about the events surrounding his departure from Pittsburgh. He acknowledged surprise at being waived but said he was more interested in looking ahead.

"You know, I don't really want to talk about it," Blount said. "But just the fact it opened up another opportunity for me to get back here ended up being a good thing for me.

"I'm going to stay ready. I'm in good shape. Whenever they call me to carry the ball, I'm going to go out there and do whatever I can do to make them comfortable with their decision to bring me back."

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