Earlier this week, minicamp started and minicamp ended. This means that the mandatory phase of the New England Patriots' offseason workouts is over as well – at least until training camp starts in late July. Until then, we have re-entered the quiet parts of the NFL calendar.
However, while the football world seemingly turns slower these days it does not stop. After all, by late August, each team has to start making its roster cuts. Until then, players have to secure their spots on the team; they need to do their jobs (well) or someone else will.
Over the course of the next few weeks, we will take a look at the men fighting for those spots on the 2016 New England Patriots. Today, we'll take a look at running back LeGarrette Blount.
Name: LeGarrette Blount
Position: Running back
Jersey number: 29
Size: 6'0, 250 lbs.
2015 review: LeGarrette Blount's 2015 season started slow: he missed the Patriots' season opener because of a suspension and played only seven snaps the following week, carrying the ball twice for a mere four yards. However, he began to hit his stride after week 2, seeing both regular playing time and regular carries.
While Dion Lewis was the clear number one option at running back, Blount looked good in limited snaps. However, the veteran was unable to carry New England's ground game after Lewis' season ended in week 8 – in parts because of the team's shaky offensive line, but in parts also because of his own one-dimensionality.
Lewis was a threat because he was dangerous as a runner and a receiver. Blount, on the other hand, is far less talented in the passing game. This, in turn, led opposing teams to counter with base defenses, against which Blount struggled to consistently gain yardage – before suffering a season-ending hip injury in week 14.
Overall, Blount appeared in 12 games and played 27.5% of the Patriots' regular season snaps. He carried the ball 165 times for 703 yards (4.26 yards per carry) and six scores, adding another touchdown on one of his six pass receptions (for 43 yards).
2016 preview: After the 2015 season, Blount became an unrestricted free agent. He remained unsigned until New England brought him back on a team-friendly one-year contract. Given his deal, the 29-year old is far from a lock to make the team. Given what he brings to the table, though, his chances do look good.
The Patriots essentially divide their runners into two groups – pure running backs and receiving backs – and Blount is by far the most proven and experienced of the first group, which really only includes one other name: oft-injured Tyler Gaffney. Therefore, Blount looks like the odds-on favorite to earn a roster spot as New England's sole bigger back.
Given the way the team's current running back depth chart is structured, it seems as if the Patriots are once again relying heavily on their receiving backs. With Lewis projected to return as the starter, Blount will likely see a lower snap count. When this was the case last year, Blount looked good. It remains to be seen whether or not this also holds true this upcoming season.
LeGarrette Blount is no sure-fire lock to make the Patriots' 53-man roster. However, given his role and experience within the team's offense, his chances of surviving roster cuts look very good.
Blount, as has been the case in 2015, will be used regularly as the top substitute behind projected starter Dion Lewis. It is a role that should suit the veteran – hopefully, his performance will reflect that.