Blount force trauma
BLOUNT FORCE TRAUMA
May 29, 2014
LeGarrette Blount is a big, bad man, and the Steelers have very specific plans for the latest addition to their RB stable.
It was a simple up-and-back cone drill done too soon after the stretch for anyone to really care except Mike Tomlin.
The Steelers' coach likes to use these drills to teach fundamentals in his own humorous and bombastic way, especially to newcomers like LeGarrette Blount.
"Blount," Tomlin shouted during the drill, "I don't ever want to see you moving backward on a football field again."
Tomlin said something else to Blount that was inaudible to those on the sideline, but it may have been something like, "You are my new beast. Go forward."
Blount not only looks like a full load coming through the line here at spring practices, he has some breakaway speed. The 6-0 1/2, 250-pounder blew through one hole later in practice and wasn't caught.
No wonder the guy averaged 5.0 yards per carry in rushing for 772 yards for the New England Patriots last season.
And no wonder Tomlin got into the recruiting act during free agency to land him.
"Yeah, they had some phone calls," said Blount. "I came on my visit and we talked a lot. Finally we came to a decision and I agreed this is where I wanted to be and with what they wanted to do here and what they had in place."
What exactly did Tomlin say? How did he sell Blount on the Steelers?
"I don't think he really like sold me," Blount said. "He just laid it on the line, was honest with me, said, 'Listen this is what we want to do, this is where we want to be, and you being a part of that would build a good part in how we could get there.' I liked that. I liked the fact that they want to come out here and be a winning football team. That's what I want to be a part of."
Just to go backward for a minute, Blount finished strong with the Patriots. He started the final four regular-season games and the first playoff game and averaged 6.3 yards per carry and scored 8 touchdowns in those starts. The guy the Patriots had acquired from Tampa Bay for a seventh-round pick was giving Tom Brady a true power back and the Patriots rolled to the conference championship game.
But at the end of the season, the Patriots let him go. Legend has it that Bill Belichick doesn't let good players leave, so how did the Steelers end up signing Blount to back up Le'Veon Bell?
"I don't know," Blount said. "I don't have the slightest idea. I mean, I loved it there. It was an amazing place. And I loved being in the playoffs. I'll always have love for Bill and everybody at that place. At the same time, I'm happy I came here and I'm ready to be a part of this and hopefully we can get back to where I was last year."
With Mike Munchak taking over a young line that's on the verge of blossoming, the running game is certainly being viewed as a major component for the Steelers' return to the playoffs.
"I think so," said center Maurkice Pouncey. "He knows how to coach it real well. He knows how to set up blocking schemes for us."
"Yeah, it has to be," said right guard David DeCastro. "We have some great backs in the backfield, tight ends, Will Johnson at fullback, and we're definitely very, very confident. It will be on us to prove that and give the coaches confidence to call those plays."
What do the two line stalwarts think of the new runner?
"Big and powerful, baby. I love it," Pouncey said of Blount.
"He's awesome." said DeCastro. "Yeah, as an offensive lineman you love to have a guy like that behind you, short-yardage or even anything. He's just so skilled for being that heavy."
And so fast. The speed was surprising, almost startling, on the spring practice field.
"I've always been able to run," said the man who was timed at 4.71 in his combine 40 in 2010. "I think that's a big part of my game that people don't really respect. They don't expect me to be a big fast guy. That's cool with me. I don't mind that. But at some point when I get out there with it, you're going to have to respect it."
Tomlin respects it. That's why he went after it. And that's why he doesn't want anything more fancy than straight ahead power and speed from Blount when he has the ball.
So what else did Tomlin tell Blount out there by the cones after the stretch?
"He just said if anyone ever asks me to do anything backwards, don't do it," Blount said.
Sounds like a plan.
Good read. He is an upgrade over what we once had with Dwyer and Redman. Glad he is here.
Blount aims to factor into Steelers backfield with Bell
By Gerry Dulac / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Le'Veon Bell is no small running back, not by any measure. At 6 feet 1 and a lean-muscled 230 pounds, he is a combination of surprising power and deceptive speed.
But even Bell, who enters his second season as the focal point of the Steelers offense, admits he looks small compared to the newest member of the backfield -- LeGarrette Blount.
"He's a big guy, and he can roll, too," Bell said. "It's going to be good having him in the backfield."
Make no mistake, Blount is big and thick. At 6 feet, 250 pounds, he is the Steelers' biggest and most powerful back since Jerome Bettis, only faster. What's more, he plays with a similar attitude -- one of the reasons the Steelers signed him in free agency to serve as a backup to Bell.
Toward the end of last season with the New England Patriots, Blount, 27, looked like one of the most unstoppable backs in the league, rushing for 355 yards and scoring six touchdowns in back-to-back games against the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts.
"I'm more of a balance type runner," Bell said. "I don't look at myself as a scatback, I don't look at myself as a power back. I do a little bit of both. He's a power runner.
"When he's in the game, it's going to bring a different look than I bring. It's going to be showing the defense a lot of different looks. I'm excited about it. I definitely can't wait to see what he can do when we get the pads on."
With Bell, Blount and a young offensive line being tutored by Hall of Famer Mike Munchak, the Steelers believe they can be a top-five rushing team in 2014 after ranking 27th in the NFL last season when they averaged a puny 3.5 yards per carry.
"I totally feel that way," Blount said. "I agree with that 100 percent."
Blount is in his fifth NFL season with his third team after being signed as an undrafted free agent by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2010. Despite rushing for more than 1,000 yards and scoring 17 touchdowns as a junior at Oregon, Blount was not drafted because he missed most of his senior season after being suspended for punching an opposing player in the 2009 opener.
His best season at Tampa Bay was his rookie year when he rushed for 1,007 yards and averaged 5 yards per carry in 13 games.
But what is most attractive about Blount is his career rushing average -- 4.7 yards per carry -- which, at the very least, makes him a dependable back in short-yardage and goal-line situations. The Steelers signed him to spell Bell and get six to eight carries a game.
And that is acceptable for Blount.
"I feel like every running back in this league wants to be a starter," he said. "Obviously I want to start, and I knew that when I went to New England. I wasn't the starting guy. When I come here, I know I'm not the starting guy. But you work hard and go out there and do everything as though you are the starter. Sometimes it plays out that way, sometimes it doesn't.
"I like Le'Veon. I like his running style. He rushed for 800-plus yards and eight touchdowns as a rookie. I wouldn't mind complementing him at all."
In his only season with the Patriots in 2013, Blount rushed for 772 yards, averaged 5 yards per carry and scored seven touchdowns. But in back-to-back games -- the season finale against the Bills (189) and a playoff victory against the Colts (166) -- he rushed for a combined 355 yards, averaged 7.4 yards per carry and scored six touchdowns, including a 73-yarder.
Blount lasted longer than anticipated in free agency, eventually signing a two-year, $3.85 million contract with the Steelers March 28.
"They liked my running style," Blount said. "They liked how tough, how hard-nosed I ran. They liked how I get downhill, get my shoulders down and get extra yards after contact."
And what did he like about the Steelers?
"I like the mentality they have here -- hard-nosed football," Blount said. "The defense is really tough, and a really good defense that plays well and makes big hits and makes plays is what gets the offense hyped to run the football. And the tradition of winning. They always find ways to get it done."
Bell is glad to have his new backfield mate.
"He's a guy I used to watch growing up when he was at Oregon," Bell said. "It's crazy now I'm in the backfield with him."
Steelers work to regain long-held identity as running team
By Mark Kaboly
Published: Saturday, May 31, 2014
Sixty-four percent of LeGarrette Blount and Le'Veon Bell's combined career yards have come after contact:
Player Att. Yds. YAC %YAC
Blount 579 2,711 1,765 65%
Bell 244 860 51 60%
Source: ProFootball Focus
Year after year, the Steelers talked the talk with the best of them.
But for the fourth consecutive year, the promise of regaining their identity as a knock-you-in-the-mouth running team failed miserably.
Only five teams were worse running the ball than the Steelers during a second consecutive 8-8 season. Their 86.4 yards per game were the fewest in team history. The streak of not having a 100-yard rusher was pushed to 22 games.
“Embarrassing,” guard Ramon Foster said. “The guys understand that they have to be bullies now. We have to show it. It just can't be talk.”
The offseason showed that Mike Tomlin is sick of it, as well.
Tomlin hired Hall of Fame lineman and former Titans coach Mike Munchak and brought in 250-pound bruising running back LeGarrette Blount to complement Le'Veon Bell for the purpose of bringing back the power running game. For real this time.
“Being the Pittsburgh Steelers, we are known for running the ball,” Bell said. “Last year we weren't as good as we wanted to be. We want to get back to where we want to be.”
Might it all start with some Blount force trauma?
The Steelers have become more of a passive run team in recent years, whether it's because of personnel or game situations.
That was most notable in short-yardage situations last year where they ranked 21st in power ranking (percentage of runs on third or fourth down with 2 yards or less to go, that achieved a first down or touchdown), according to Football Outsiders. They were only successful on 60 percent of such plays.
Blount could take care of that.
“That was a guy I used to watch at Oregon, and I knew he was going to be a good player to come in and run downhill,” Bell said. “His running style is a little different than mine, but I can take a part of his game and put it into mine.”
Blount, who was signed to a two-year, $3.85 million free agent deal in March, uses his big frame to his advantage as 65 percent of his career yards have come after contact.
“That's my running style,” Blount said. “That's how I run the football, and I feel that Le'Veon is a big, tough running back, too. This is how this team is run with a physical run game, and that's what we are trying to get back to. Just me adding another dimension to it is a good thing. For me to come out here and add to the toughness is what I am looking forward to.”
Bell isn't afraid to mix things up as well, and even if there will be some nonviolent blocking schemes in the Steelers repertoire like the outside zone, they plan on having the power-run game as their identity.
“So we need to run the ball, we need to be great at running the ball, and we've got guys that want to be great at running the ball,” quaterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “So hopefully we can do it and do it successfully.”
It starts with limiting the negative plays — something the Steelers struggled with in the run game last year. More than 80 of their 394 rushing attempts resulted on tackled at or behind the line of scrimmage, which was up more than 8 percent from Tomlin's rookie year when the Steelers finished third in rushing.
Some of that was because of the running backs. A lot was on the offensive line.
“The biggest thing for us is executing plays and not having negative plays,” center Maurkice Pouncey said.
The biggest thing may be the addition of Blount.
“I know they brought me in here to run the football,” Blount said. “I think we will be all right.”
I saw it was reported that Blount will only have about 8 carries a game. Why is that news? How many carries did anyone expect him to have? That sounds about right to me, unless Bell gets dinged. Average # of offensive plays, around 65. I think we can expect Bell to touch the ball 25 times, carries and catches. Maybe more like 30 if he is used more in the passing game. Ben will probably throw 30 times a game. I think 8 carries for Blount is about on target. Some games he will have a little less, some time a little more, if he is moving the chains late in a game and they want to protect wear on Bell once games are in hand.
I think Bell and Blount's carries will be determined by who is delivering the yards. IMO Bell needs to keep a fire under his butt and perform because Blount is going to want to be on the field. That is a great situation to have and if both perform we can keep them both fresh and healthy for the entire season.
I'd love to see both in the backfield at the same time on occasion. The Steelers have some weapons. Wil Johnson is also reported at OTAs as catching everything thrown his way and he is way more athletic than most FBs in this league. You have to wonder with the ability we have to catch the ball out of the backfield how many three WR sets will we really ever have to use?????
- Charles Harris-OLB, Missouri
- Rasul Douglas-CB, West Virginia
- Chris Godwin-WR, Penn State
- John Johnson-S, Boston College
- James Conner-RB, Pitt
- Nazair Jones-DT, North Carolina
- Garrett Sickels, DE/OLB, Penn State
Hall of Famer
I'd like to see us return to the Parker/Bettis days. We have The Bell Ringer start for Ben to use as a weapon to get us the lead but come 4th quarter we bring in Blount Force Trauma to finish out games. That worked damned well for Cowher.
Reading that he ran a 4.71 at the combine was a surprise to me as he sure looks quicker then that.
Wow I thought Bells college reel showed a lot of hurdling. This dude does a whole lotta airborne stuff for a 250 pounder.
Originally Posted by sick beats