When LeGarrette Blount first came out of the college ranks and went undrafted, I, and I’m sure many other Pittsburgh Steelers fans, saw his size and running style and wanted to see the team take a chance on him and bring him in as a free agent. This despite his character concerns typically being something that would take him off the team’s radar—which it apparently did.
He seemed to justify the hype as a rookie for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when he rushed for 1007 yards on 201 carries for over five yards per carry, six of which ended in the end zone. Meanwhile, the Steelers selected Jonathan Dwyer, who was lucky to make the roster.
Of course, Blount had his issues in Tampa Bay as well, with chronic tardiness being a concern during his first two seasons, as well as a seeming lack of motivation in the classroom. These things may have ended his Steelers career prematurely anyway, had they signed him then.
But he’s with the black and gold now, and evidently he too saw the fit between himself and the team, and with the AFC North as a whole.
Blount was asked about what he liked about the Steelers and the division yesterday. When asked why Pittsburgh was the right fit for him, he made it pretty simple: “I like how they play. I like the division. I like that they have a tough, hard-nosed running style”.
Blount talked about watching film on the Steelers and how they won their recent championships, on the backs of the ball carriers such as Jerome Bettis and Willie Parker. That was more significant in the 2005 Super Bowl than the one a few years later, of course.
He was then asked if he watched their film after he signed with the team. “No”, he said. “I watched them before I ever came. I watched [Bettis] in his last Super Bowl before he retired. I watched him even before then. I liked his running style from the beginning”.
He had a big grin on his face when he answered the next question, about if he was excited about being part of that tradition of running style in Pittsburgh, which Bettis had defined for close to a decade. It was clear that his reaction of smiles and laughter was genuine.
“Yeah, it does excite me. Just the whole aspect of me and Le’Veon [Bell] being together and knowing the things we can do and seeing what he’s done in his rookie campaign. It’s going to be an exciting time”.
Steelers fans and beat writers have been chomping at the bit to find the next big back in Pittsburgh. Even Dwyer got the “Mini Bus” treatment on the rare occasion. But Blount may be the closest thing to The Bus since it made its last stop in Detroit.
And Pittsburgh may be the closest thing he’s had to the right environment in his professional career thus far. Even in New England last season, he was nearly and afterthought until he was needed.
With the Steelers, he understands his role as the complementary back with Le’Veon Bell. That is why it was so important for Mike Tomlin to be involved in recruiting him. As long as he holds on to the ball, I expect that Blount will quickly become a fan favorite as the city of Pittsburgh quickly becomes a favorite of his, if they truly complement each other as well as it seems.