RB Blount rejoins Pats after being cut by Steelers
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) LeGarrette Blount's teammates are glad to have him back in a New England Patriots uniform.
Which one he wears, though, is still up in the air.
Some players had trouble recognizing the 6-foot, 250-pound running back on Thursday after he signed and donned No. 60 for his first practice.
''I didn't know if he was a new offensive lineman or a new long snapper or what,'' nose tackle Vince Wilfork said.
''I thought he was going to be blocking for a little bit with the linemen,'' added tight end Rob Gronkowski.
It was a happy return to New England for Blount after a not-so pleasant departure from Pittsburgh.
Blount was cut by the Steelers on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after he jogged off LP Field with the clock still running in a 27-24 victory over the Tennessee Titans.
He was out of work less than 48 hours.
The Patriots wasted no time reclaiming the troubled veteran, who played in 16 games with seven starts last season for New England, finishing with 772 yards rushing and seven touchdowns. He ran for 166 yards and set a franchise record with four rushing touchdowns in New England's playoff win over Indianapolis.
''It's exciting to have him back, a familiar face,'' said special teams captain Matthew Slater. ''LeGarrette was a great teammate here last year. We really enjoyed him and he did a lot of positive things for us on the football field.''
The Steelers signed Blount to a two-year, $3.85-million deal in March to provide the running game with some needed heft. He ran for 266 yards and two scores but saw his playing time diminish in recent weeks, taking the field for just one play on Monday night while good friend Le'Veon Bell rushed for a career-high 204 yards and a touchdown.
The talented tandem celebrated Bell's 5-yard dive early in the fourth quarter that pulled Pittsburgh within a touchdown, posing for a faux selfie on the sideline after the play was upheld on review.
Yet when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger lined up for the final snap, Blount headed for the tunnel. He was already dressed when his teammates entered the locker room and sat on the bus while the rest of the Steelers soaked in their fourth win in five games.
Blount and Bell were cited for marijuana possession - with Bell also being charged with a DUI - following a traffic stop in August while en route to the team plane to Philadelphia.
While Blount was unavailable to reporters Thursday in Foxborough, his new teammates offered nothing but compliments on his behalf.
''It was good to have him back,'' said fullback James Develin.
Blount joins a crowded Patriots backfield featuring receiving specialist Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden, rookie James White and surprising Sunday-night standout Jonas Gray, who steamrolled his way to 201 yards and four touchdowns in a win over the Colts, New England's sixth straight victory.
Despite his recent success, Gray had no trouble welcoming Blount into the fold.
''It's kind of funny, that running back position, they always talk about that camaraderie, so right away on the practice field we acted like we had known each other for a long time,'' he said. ''He's a great guy to learn from, too, and I think that we're both going to motivate each other.''
Gray said he never questioned the move when he first heard the news, trusting coach Bill Belichick and the front office's decision.
''I believe in the system, it's worked for me, and I believe in the Patriot Way, it's worked for a long time,'' Gray said. ''I'm just excited to come to work every day.''
Blount and the rest of the Patriots' backfield have a tough test ahead Sunday when the Detroit Lions (7-3) and their top-ranked rushing defense come to town. The Lions are allowing only 68.8 yards per game on the ground.
''He was a physical player last year,'' Gronkowski said of Blount, ''and I'm sure he's going to bring it back now.''
The Patriots also released defensive lineman Casey Walker.
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