FOXBORO -- LeGarrette Blount has more rushing yards in four games with the Patriots than he did last season in 13 games with the Buccaneers. The running back probably wouldn't regret the fact Tampa Bay traded him away, if he thought about it at all.
"I don't look back on anything," he stated firmly, "I'm just happy to be here in general."
New England's coaching staff has expressed their satisfaction with Blount several times since the deal went down in April. Thing is, the words haven't translated to a consistently large number of snaps. Blount has only gotten more than seven carries in the last two weeks. His combined 26 rushing yards in the first two weeks impressed neither NFL fans nor analysts.
Hence the surprise in Week 4.
Blount's nine rushes for 64 yards against Atlanta included a 47-yard touchdown run. Eyebrows raised as the 250-pound power back streaked into the end zone.
The Patriots just smiled.
"LeGarrette ran for [1,007] yards, whatever it was, his rookie season. It's not like he hasn't performed well in this league before. We traded for a player that we thought was a good player. It's no shock he can run the ball," Bill Belichick said . . . in August.
The quote came after Blount rushed for 101 yards during a preseason game against the Eagles. The performance featured a 51-yard TD run, a highlight those fans and analysts might have forgotten once the regular season kicked off.
New England has had three running backs active on game days. They're all talented, and possess different strengths. Sometimes the snaps are split evenly, like in Week 3 when Blount, Brandon Bolden, and lead back Stevan Ridley got 26 snaps apiece. But most of the time, Ridley will come out on top. It depends on the game plan and in-game adjustments based on what the defense gives them.
"It keeps us fresh, and I feel like that's one of the reasons we have so many backs, is to keep all of us fresh," Blount said. "Everyone comes in there with fresh legs and can continue to do whatever the other guy came out from doing. They're going to continue to go out and pound the football and whenever they get tired, you have another fresh running back coming in and continuing to do that."
Even if that means inconsistent carries?
"I don't got a problem with what I'm doing now," he shrugged. "It is what it is. However many times they want me to carry the ball, I'll carry it."
Blount's perspective couldn't help but be shaped by his experience in Tampa. He was a number one back who quickly became marginalized by a shiny new draft pick. From 201 carries to 41. From six touchdowns to two.
He feels he's worth something here, in New England.
"If you get to play, [Belichick] trusts you. If you're not playing, there's either something you're doing or they don't trust you. I'm playing so I feel like they trust me. I'm in the game, I'm in the fourth quarter, in the third quarter. I'm in the game in all quarters. There's just some situations you trust more guys than others."
It says a lot, then, that Blount got the ball on New England's third-and-1 situation with two minutes left in regulation. A conversion would have likely secured a Patriots win. How's that for confidence?
"Whatever they need me to do, I'm going to do it," Blount said, "whether it's third quarter or fourth quarter. If they need me to close the game, I'm going to do that; if they need me to start the game, I'm going to do that."