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Roseman: Blount A Tempo-Setter At RB

Posted May 17, 2017

LeGarrette Blount is a 250-pound force who scored 15 rushing touchdowns inside the 10-yard line last season with New England. Blount is a very snug fit for the Eagles, and that’s why he’s here on a one-year deal ...

LeGarrette Blount is a 250-pound force who scored 15 rushing touchdowns inside the 10-yard line last season with New England and converted 25 times on third- and fourth-down short-yardage situations. For an offense looking to improve upon those two specific areas, Blount is a very snug fit for the Eagles.

And that’s why he’s here on a one-year deal, announced on Wednesday morning. The Curious Case of LeGarrette Blount and why he was still an unrestricted free agent after rushing for a total of 18 touchdowns and gaining 1,161 ground yards (3.9 yards per carry) has been resolved. Blount is an Eagle, adding to a backfield short on experience and bulk.

The Eagles ranked 24th in the NFL in touchdown efficiency in the red zone in 2016, and the running backs combined to score just 13 touchdowns in 44 rushing attempts inside the 10-yard line.

Blount brings a career of success in the backfield, as well as two Super Bowl rings, both with New England (2013 season over Seattle, 2016 season over Atlanta). Perhaps he isn’t here to shoulder the entire load in the running game, but he should be able to have success in the areas the Eagles use him.

Blount has averaged 4.4 yards per carry in his first seven NFL seasons, and he’s here to add to the backfield mix offensively.

“We’re always looking for complementary players when we go over our roster and positions,” Howie Roseman said at the NovaCare Complex on Wednesday. “Obviously, LeGarrette had a tremendous amount of success with New England last year, rushing for over 1,000 yards and scoring 18 touchdowns and winning a Super Bowl. He sets the tempo for your team as a running back.

“He can run between the tackles and he can drag tacklers down the field. He can do everything you look for in the running game. He had runs of plus-20 yards (Blount had seven rushes of 20-plus yards last season, tied for sixth most in the league) and he’s won two Super Bowls in the last four years. For us, people are going to see that his size is what jumps out at you, but he’s also got quick feet for a big man. He has a complementary skill set that works well in our backfield.”

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It’s no secret that the Eagles have been keeping their eyes open to improve the roster. At running back, the Eagles now add Blount to a mix that includes Wendell Smallwood, here for his second season, the incomparable Darren Sproles, fourth-round draft pick Donnel Pumphrey, rookie free agent Corey Clement, and Ryan Mathews, who is recovering from a neck injury.

How much the Eagles turn to him remains to be seen after Blount carried the ball 299 times in New England last season and then added 109 yards and a touchdown in the postseason. Blount is 7-1 in his career playoff appearances, with 111 carries, 470 yards, a 4.2-yard-per-carry average, and eight touchdowns scored.

“It’s an exciting group with a good mix of veteran backs who have had success in this league and younger backs who can learn from them,” Roseman said. “Look at Pumphrey and the knowledge he’s going to gain working with Darren Sproles. Is there a better mentor out there? Wendell has the feet of a little man but he can play with some power at times, as we saw when he finished out the game last year against Pittsburgh. Corey Clement is going to learn a lot from LeGarrette. Corey is 220 pounds and he has good feet, so we’re glad to add competition to that position.

“We’ve been looking at that position for the last month or two, through the draft, and we think bringing LeGarrette in here is a good fit for both sides.”

The Eagles did their homework on Blount, who has a history of some off-the-field issues. They researched his background and talked to as many people as possible, as they handle all of their personnel acquisitions. New defensive end Chris Long, who played in New England last year, was a resource to learn more about Blount.

In the end, Blount is an Eagle, and appears to be a player who can help the offense.

“He loves the game and he has a lot of energy,” Roseman said. “We’re bigger on offense, with LeGarrette added to a group that includes Alshon Jeffery and Zach Ertz and Jordan Matthews, a good offensive line, we feel. He is another piece and we’re glad to have him.”

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