LeGarrette Blount carried five times for 47 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers last November in New England and was as tough to tackle in the process as such numbers would suggest.
In January Blount was even harder to stop when he rumbled for 166 yards and an Al Bundy (four touchdowns in one game) in the playoffs against Indianapolis.
Such performances were more typical than uncharacteristic for Blount, who has averaged 4.7 yards on 579 regular-season attempts in four NFL seasons.
So how is it exactly that this 6-foot, 250-pound runaway truck has landed in Pittsburgh, where he’s preparing to play for his third NFL team in five NFL campaigns?
“I have no idea,” Blount insisted. “The numbers speak for themselves. I know I have a pretty high average and I have a lot of carries. I feel like I have a pretty good body of work, a lot of credibility to my name right now.
“It is what it is. I just like to play the game; it doesn’t matter where I play it.”
Blount signed with the Steelers for a reported bargain, relatively speaking (two years, $3.85 million).
And he did so as less than a much-sought-after free agent, relatively speaking.
There has to be a reason.
It’s not hard to dial up an NFL personnel man or two who will privately maintain the reason is the baggage that comes with Blount.
There are NFL people who believe Blount’s game is too one dimensional, that he has just 23 career catches because he doesn’t catch the ball well and because he doesn’t show much interest in protecting the passer when he isn’t being asked to catch or carry the ball.
Blount also has something of a reputation as a brooder, as a guy who will sulk and otherwise negatively respond when he isn’t the focal point of an offense and is instead asked to play a complementary role, something he’s being asked to do with the Steelers.
Blount maintains he catches the ball when it’s thrown to him, and that “I haven’t met anybody on any teams that haven’t liked me.”
He was seemingly right on both accounts through OTAs.
Le’Veon Bell, the No. 1 at running back to Blount’s No. 1A, took an almost immediate liking to his new teammate this offseason. And veteran Steelers have spoken this spring about the positive influence Bell has been in the locker room.
So far Blount has been jovially involved on the South Side.
He’s also been incorporated as much more than just a second-fiddle hammer in the backfield.
He talked on Thursday about lining up in the same personnel group as Bell and about lining up in no-huddle and two-minute packages and even about lining up wide in a five-wide receivers look on occasion.
“I came in here thinking I was going to carry the football,” Blount said. “All the other stuff is just like added on to the pile and I’m not going to turn any of it down.
“I’m going to try to do everything they let me do. I’m going to try to do it all. I can do whatever I’m asked to do.”
It remains to be seen if the Steelers will stay as committed to keeping Blount as involved as he’s been, and if the complementary role behind Bell with his new team will remain as appealing as Blount’s OTA vibe has obviously suggested.
But staffers are already contemplating the potentially devastating effect the one-two punch of Bell and Blount hammering away in a late-season, cold-weather game might have on an opposing defense.
The Big Man has joined the band.
Through OTAs, at least, he’s making a pretty big splash.