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Wait For Patriots Running Back LeGarrette Blount to Have an Offensive Line

The Patriots running back has to be happy about the upgrades on the offensive line.

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Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots won't be able to use LeGarrette Blount for the Week 1 game against the Steelers, but don't be surprised if Blount still goes on to have a massive season.

We've talked in the past about how Blount is one of the weakest short yardage backs in the entire league. For all of his ability when the defense is spread out, Blount doesn't have the ability to hit the hole in short yardage situations. He's the type of back that requires some build up before his first contact, and the Patriots haven't been able to provide that for him.

Pro Football Focus notes that Blount was hit in the backfield the 10th most frequently in the whole league and averaged the 9th fewest yards before contact, yet still managed to generate the 2nd most yards after contact. Blount had the 6th highest rate of plays pick up 10+ yards after contact, compared to Stevan Ridley who had the 7th highest rate of runs with zero yards after contact.

This isn't new, as Blount ranked 5th in the league in yards after contact on runs to the outside in 2013.

But when Blount is asked to run between the tackles? According to Football Outsiders, the Patriots ranked in the top 4 of yards per attempt in every direction to the outside, yet ranked a weak 25th on runs to the inside.

The weakest two run blockers on the Patriots offensive line were Dan Connolly, now a free agent, and Bryan Stork, who will be in his second season in the NFL (technically, the weakest two were Jordan Devey and Marcus Cannon, but neither were starters at the end of the season) . The Patriots hope they've brought in improvements by means of rookies Tre Jackson and Shaq Mason, both of whom were better known for their run blocking than their pass protection.

If the Patriots offensive line improves to the point where their running backs aren't getting clobbered in the backfield, and Blount is allowed to build up more momentum prior to contact, then New England's running attack could rank at the top of the league. If Blount is able to crack open his yards after contact ability on more plays, then more passing plays will open up the middle for Tom Brady.

There will definitely be some growing pains as the offensive line takes shape, but once the line settles down, Blount could be in for a great season.