PHILADELPHIA -- Bam! Thud! Crunch!
Those sounds you might have heard Friday night in the Patriots’ 31-22 preseason-opening win over the Eagles? It was Patriots ball-carriers, in their first chance to truly unload since training camp began, running over and through an undersized defense. LeGarrette Blount led the charge with 101 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns.
Blount’s performance, which included a 51-yard zig-zagging TD in the second quarter against the Eagles’ second-unit defense, was one of the highlight plays of the night. It also served as a reminder that the 6-foot, 250-pounder has a solid chance to make the final 53-man roster as a top backup to Stevan Ridley (8 carries, 92 yards).
"I think he surprised us all," Ridley said of Blount. "Like I said about this running back group, we're special. We have a lot of work to do [but] I can say we are off to a good start."
With Ridley, Blount and second-year man Brandon Bolden as the power backs, and Shane Vereen and Leon Washington the passing backs, the possibility of all five sticking is high because Bolden and Washington are also top contributors on special teams.
The bruising 6-foot, 250-pound Blount, who might not have been considered a roster lock before Friday night, brings a different dimension to the group.
“I just add fuel to the fire. They already had a successful group of backs before I came here,” said Blount, who was acquired in a draft-day trade with the Buccaneers for a seventh-round draft choice and has been living with former Tampa teammate Aqib Talib.
While some might view Blount as a plodder, his 51-yard touchdown run, in which he made two sharp cuts to change direction and outrun the defense, showed he has potential to be more than that.
“It was an outside zone [run] and they had it protected pretty well and I saw a big lane, and a lot of green grass on the other side, and I took it. Then I saw a lot of pursuit, so I took it back,” he explained. “It just happened to be a lot of green grass when I went back. I just put my head back and hopefully got in the end zone.”
Some hustle from rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld, who never gave up on his block and helped keep Blount’s path clear in the final 10 yards, was also a key.
Blount capped it off with a somersault.
“It’s always good to add some pizzazz,” Blount said.
Blount and the Patriots’ running game did just that on Friday night.