Trouble dogged talented Blount

Trouble dogged talented Blount
April 27, 2013, 5:30 pm
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Remember when LeGarrette Blount was running over people at will down in Tampa Bay? It wasn't all that long ago. In 2010, his rookie year, he ran for 1,007 yards on 201 attempts -- a 5.0 yard-per-carry average -- and six touchdowns. That entire season served as an impressive display of athleticism by Blount, at times jumping over potential tacklers, at times lowering his head and bulldozing them with his thumping 6-foot, 247-pound frame.

So what happened? Why was he available to the Patriots for a seventh-round pick and Jeff Demps, a track athlete who has yet to appear in an NFL game?

Blount hasn't been one of coach Greg Schiano's guys for some time now, it seems. When Schiano was hired last year, he drafted running back Doug Martin in the first round and Martin became the team's starter almost immediately. Blount got only 41 carries for 151 yards in 2012.

But Blount had problems long before Schiano took over. In 2010, that season when Blount was one of the best backs in the league, he was fined more than $15,000 for repeatedly showing up late to practice, according to a report by the Tampa Bay Times.

So often was Blount tardy that the team hired a car service to wake him and drive him to the team's facilities on time. The Bucs cancelled the service after a few weeks, assuming Blount had learned his lesson, but he was late again on the first day after his ride was taken away. The team re-hired the car service and Blount used it through 2011.

Not only did Blount have trouble waking up in time to get to practice, he also has had a hard time staying awake in meetings, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

Those bad habits seemed to have caught up with Blount, who fell out of favor with then-coach Raheem Morris in 2011 because of his shoddy work habits and a distinct inability to hold onto the football; Blount fumbled three times that year.

"It's a basic thing, and to fumble like that, that's unacceptable," Morris said at the end of the 2011 season. "If some players aren't ready to play, we'll put others in."

It didn't get much better for Blount when Schiano replaced Morris. First came the team's selection of Martin, and things fell apart quickly after that.

In Week 1, Blount was stricken with what seemed like a phantom injury in the second quarter. He didn't return to the game, which puzzled his coaching staff.

"I don't know if we're all certain on what's ailing LeGarrette," said Schiano, who at the time emphasized that Blount could have returned. "He came out of the game and we thought it was his leg. We're not sure . . . I think he's okay."

By Week 2, Blount appeared to be the team's third running back, behind Martin and backup DJ Ware.

Even as a short-yardage back, a job he seemed built for, Blount struggled at times. He failed to score from the 1-yard line on three straight plays in Week 7.

Google Blount's name and the first suggested search reads "LeGarrette Blount punch." A talented back at Oregon, he burst into the national consciousness after punching Boise State defensive end Byron Hout following a season-opening loss to the Broncos in 2009. During the incident, Blount hit a teammate trying to restrain him and then appeared to go after Boise State spectators in the stands. He was originally suspended for the remainder of the 2009 season but was reinstated for the final four games on Oregon's schedule. Upon his return, he was essentially a non-factor.

As a result, Blount's draft stock plummeted and he went undrafted. He signed with the Titans, but quickly got into trouble again. He was waived a short time after punching a teammate in training camp and later picked up by the Buccaneers.

Now, after three seasons in Tampa, he has landed in New England where he could compete for a job as one of the team's backup running backs.

The Patriots are fairly well-equipped at the position with Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Leon Washington and Brandon Bolden. However, if Blount can distance himself from the missteps that kept him on the sidelines for the better part of the last two seasons, this low-risk trade has a chance to pay off for the Pats. Blount did, after all, rush for 1,000 just three years ago. Remember?