LeGarrette Blount Gives Steelers A Complementary Ground Attack

The Pittsburgh Steelers appeared intent to add a veteran running back to the roster to supplement second-year back Le’Veon Bell at some point this offseason, and that point came earlier today when they signed LeGarrette Blount to a two-year contract.

It’s no secret that the Steelers value a veteran presence in their locker room, which is why when they lost out on Jerricho Cotchery among the wide receivers, they added Lance Moore to the equation.

After failing to re-sign Jonathan Dwyer, their own veteran, and subsequent failures to sign James Starks and Maurice Jones-Drew, Blount became perhaps the most attractive option left on the market for the role.

In Blount, the Steelers are getting a back who’s seen a lot in the league in four short years and has been asked to fulfill a variety of roles.

As a rookie, he was thrust into the spotlight with the Tampa Bay Buccanneers, rushing for over 1000 yards and averaging 5 yards per carry.

In his second year, Tampa Bay’s offense inexplicably turned more toward Josh Freeman and the passing game, and saw Blount’s playing time and production decrease, despite becoming a full-time starter.

The Buccaneers drafted running back Doug Martin in the first round in 2012, signaling the beginning of the end for Blount in Tampa Bay. He was forced to the bench carried the ball just 41 times as the organization grew tired of him.

He revitalized his career last season with the New England Patriots, emerging from a crowded backfield thanks to injury and benching to become the team’s featured runner down the stretch. Including the postseason, he rushed for 942 yards averaging over 5 yards per carry and scored 11 touchdowns on just 182 carries.

Blount has been the featured runner, the backup, and part of platoon in just four short years in the league.

Overall, he has adjusted to each role well as he has continued to mature on and off the field, which should serve him well as his role in Pittsburgh becomes defined through the offseason and into the regular season.

Because I don’t believe that Blount’s role is already clearly defined. Given the money and years, it would seem to suggest that he wasn’t brought in just to sit on the bench until Bell comes up lame with an injury.

The coaching staff needs to decide how much they want to put on the shoulders of their young 22-year-old tailback. They already know that they have a back in Blount that can shoulder a lot of the load.

If they choose to feed Blount the ball a statistically significant amount of the time, it could save Bell from some wear and tear a year after he had close to 300 touches in just 13 games.

Last year, Felix Jones touched the ball only 41 times with Bell healthy. Dwyer had just 47 touches. Will the Steelers ask Blount to absorb that much of the work, or potentially more?

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Johnny Loose

    i see anywhere between a 60-40 to a 70-30 timeshare. Provided both are healthy and everything is going as planned for the most part. Blount is definitely going to be involved I can guarantee that

  • PA2AK

    Hopefully more toward 70-30 and him having additional duties in returns and other ST

  • Game_Time

    Being that both Bell and Williams are dual threats in the run & passing game from the HB & FB positions, it would be to their advantage to work those two early and often to establish leads going into the latter stages of the game in which Blount can come in with fresh legs and a 250 lbs frame to wear the “D” down while working the clock at the same time…… Does anyone remember the Barry Foster, John L. Williams and “Bam” Morris combination?

  • srdan

    there goes my fantasy squad

  • srdan

    I have to say that the timing of the salary cap increase was perfect for us. I can’t complain…

    Obviously time will tell, but if I had to grade Colbert and company it would be hard not to give them very high marks for this off-season. With the well timed 10 million they did wonders for our team. I considered the offseason a success at the time that 93 signed his tender and we learned that wood was released. Mitchell is a boost to our secondary, not only with his speed but leadership as well. I am expecting from Thomas as much as I did from Woods (realistically). But it’s a fresh start. Sometimes that sparks players. Moore and cotchery seem like a wash, but moore is faster, and we lacked a deep game last year. Moats looks like a ST monster, anything more than that will be a welcome bonus. I consider him better than keon or carter, dont know why. Put blount on top of all that and I think we had a great offseason.

    Only hole in my perfect offseason is the gaping hole at DE. But Colbert said that is where he sees thomas playing. I don’t see it.

  • Matt Manzo

    What number will he wear? I’d like to see him in 33!

  • steeltown

    I want the ball in LeVeons hands, he is a beast and he’s versatile, but 3down workhorse or not Blount is going to get his carries and I look forward to watching him, he’s still in his prime and I hope he tears it up!

  • Superdriller316

    He had 27 in Tampa

  • Rubem Dornas

    Two RB’s is still few. Supposing that the Steelers will draft only one RB, do you think the Steelers will re-sign the hyphen? Or promote Alexander from the Practice Squad and sign an undrafted rookie for his place?

  • steeltown

    Yes.. I think LSH will be signed after the june 1st designation, 1yr vet deal to compete in camp and prove he’s healthy

  • steeltown

    adding to that, I like the newly signed WRs Lanear Sampson and Jasper Collins too, probably just training camp fodder but camp will be exciting

  • Johnny Loose


  • Johnny Loose

    haha i thought the same thing. I don’t think Blount will vulture as many TDs as people think. I don’t think he’ll be in on EVERY 3rd and short/goal line play. Bell has more versatility, which is something a defense must account for. So leaving him in as much as possible would be the better strategy. At least I think so..

  • SteelerCop

    Thomas at NT and McClendon at DE with Heyward…We are straight! Just need some backups…and we will get that in the draft! Maybe resign Keisel for league minimum if we have the money!

  • alex

    crussh, killl, destroyy!

  • Matthew Marczi

    Blount isn’t the short-yardage back people think he is. Will be covering this topic tomorrow.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Both Stephens-Howling and Alexander are certainly possibilities as we sit here in March.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Please tell me that’s a GWAR reference.


  • steelster

    Lets hope Thomas isn’t the starting NT

  • SteelerCop

    Anybody in mind that’s on the team…or a FA?

  • Game_Time

    They didn’t sign him to a 2 yr. 4 mil contract to use him sparingly. Blount will get his fair burn. And if they get big enough leads going into the 4th quarters of games you can expect to see Blount pounding the rock to prevent wear and tear on the Young Gun and keep him fresh for the next weeks game.

  • Matthew Marczi

    No reason right now to think anyone but McLendon would be starting at NT this season.

  • SteelerCop

    McLendon was horrible last season…couldn’t penetrate…couldn’t command a double team…which resulted in no pass rush or run defense. He is not big enough! We need a better NT to do the right things…to free up our LBs…McLendon is done at NT in my opinion.

  • William Weaver

    What do you all see? Every third or fourth possession going to Blount? Any chance they get in the backfield together?

  • pittsburghjoe

    Matt, do you think the chances of drafting Taylor Lewan just increased (if his is available)? I really have to wonder now. This pick up may change the face of the offensive attack, picking up another lineman and pounding the ball makes more sense now. I totally understand we need a CB…. I think we need to throw his name in there with Gilbert and Dennard. If they do go CB in round one, round 2 LT is a possibility. Regardless… I am loving this pick up. Pound the ball dangit! Pound the ball!! The running game in the NFL is getting unfairly downgraded and it is just as important as ever!!

  • Jason White

    This whole offseason has been anything but a disappointment that’s for sure. Every loss in free agency was filled with a player of equal or greater abilities. Cam Thomas is kinda neutral but he was a cheaper option and should at least be a serviceable rotational player. I would have liked to have added an experience cornerback but I’m sure a doubledip at the cornerback position is on tap for the draft in May. They still have some holes but picture is becoming more clear.

    Need depth at corner possibly expecting at least one of them to be starter capable in a year after Ike Taylor likely retires. Need another receiver to add to the mix preferably a taller hands catcher. Kiesel seems like a likely option to be re-sined after June 1st, certainly we should see at least one D-lineman added in the draft. I hope they give DeAndre Coleman a look on the 3rd day of the draft. He’s a run stuffer who can play the 5 technique. Need to add a scat back. One guy they should look at is Dri Archer out of Kent State. They could add someone like James White (Seems odd to say that name considering that it was my dad’s name) even so Dri Archer is a playmaker and could also be looked at as a receiver as well. Other than receiver, scat back and perhaps tight end this should be a pretty defensive heavy draft. u

  • mlc43

    Have you watched the film and read the evald of Thomas. Unless he improves like he is an hgh pin cushion, then Mac will definitely be the choice at NT. However, i agree he would be much better at DE for us…despite what some people think. Ahem…cough SD

  • Michael Milliron

    I think one of the key things to the signing is that Blount should be able to handle enough carries to allow Bell to be the primary third down back. Bell showed a proclivity for being effective in the passing game and having him on the field in all situations allows the Steelers to be more multiple in their packages and play calling, especially in situational football down and distances. Bell needs to be a volume, multifaceted weapon for this offense to reach its potential.

    Blount is young with his potential arrow still pointing up, as well, as opposed to just some token veteran back that could have been brought in, like say a Ronnie Brown – type. So, I like the move assuming Blount is beyond some of the immaturity in his past that has somewhat hampered his career to this point.

  • SteelerCop

    Well I hope Thomas works out…if not draft someone who will…because McClendon is not the option at NT. We will revisit later…should be an interesting training camp! 🙂

  • Matthew Marczi

    Honestly, the writers here, and many others who go back and watch the film, disagree with you on McLendon. I’ve already written several articles on the topic. McLendon was far from being the main issue in the run defense. No, he doesn’t command double teams the way you would like, but he was far from being a liability. Feel free to do a search of this site for articles about McLendon. Some of those articles will have interesting stats and gifs that explain our position. Perhaps you’ll be surprised, perhaps not. But either way, I would recommend not getting your hopes up regarding somebody else playing nose tackle this year.

  • Matthew Marczi

    I don’t think that signing Blount necessarily affects the Steelers’ desire to draft a lineman at all, and to be quite honest I’m having difficulty gauging the team’s true interest in doing so. Although they seem to be high on Beachum, his run blocking leaves a lot to be desired. Perhaps they expect him to improve this year. I have a hard time seeing them drafting a tackle in the early rounds with so many other immediate needs, and the general impression seems to be that they would like to see what Munchak can do with Beachum, Gilbert, and Adams first before deciding if it’s time to move on to a new prospect. But with that said, I don’t think that would prevent them from drafting someone like Lewan if he’s the BPA on their board.

  • SteelerCop

    Cool…I will check it out. I hope things get better this upcoming season…it was painful to watch the defense last season.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Personally, I believe they will. I think a big obstacle immediately in the running game was with the linebackers. You had two rookies playing there, and Timmons was often left stranded when they went to the dime, where he was used to playing with somebody next to him. I also believe that Jason Worilds took *great* strides in his play against the run toward the end of the season, and Jones has shown that he can play the run too over time. His bigger issue is the pass rush. Vince Williams really progressed as the season went on too. We saw some rookie growing pains last year…that’s why they don’t start in this defense under normal circumstances.

  • RMSteeler

    I could see Blount play some fullback with Bell as HB where Blount provides pass defense while Bell slips into the flat vacated by a WR go route. Would like to see Bell on some wheel routes. Both could also play together on the goal line with one or both of them being used as decoys if we get a good red zone target.

  • RMSteeler

    He’s hardly been used as a receiver out of the backfield. I wonder if it’s because of lack of skills or because of his other teams’ schemes. Something to work on in camp and preseason to see if it’s there.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    I thought he did a good at dt although he may be better at de

  • SteelerCop

    True! They have so more growing up to do this season! 🙂