COMMENTARY| Running back LeGarrette Blount looked like a rising star following his rookie year in 2010 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but has seen his production decline each season since then. Having been obtained by the New England Patriots in a trade this offseason, he is seeking to make the most of the second chance he has been given to revive a once-promising career.
Blount rushed for 1,007 yards and six touchdowns as a rookie, but saw his totals drop off to 781 yards and five touchdowns in 2011, and just 151 yards and one score last year. With Doug Martin emerging as a star running back, and Blount having a history of red flags, New England had to pay a very small price to see if they can catch lightning in a bottle.
Although the Patriots have excellent running back depth with Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden, they traded running back/kick returner Jeff Demps and a seventh-round draft pick for the 26-year-old Blount during this year's NFL Draft.
Blount is no stranger to second chances. He missed much of his senior season at the University of Oregon following a suspension for punching a Boise State player after a game. The incident also contributed to him going undrafted in 2010.
The Tennessee Titans decided to take a chance on the running back, and signed him as an undrafted free agent. Unfortunately, his volatility surfaced once again, as he punched teammate Eric Bakhtiari during a training camp practice. He survived punishment but was cut before the season started.
Blount eventually found his way to Tampa Bay. While he had initial success, his reported lack of work ethic led him to fall out of favor with coaches. He was also fined for habitually being late to practice; to the point the Buccaneers supposedly hired a car service and driver to wake him up and shuttle him to the team facility.
The size of the 247-pound Blount is something that cannot be claimed by any of the other running backs ahead of him on New England's depth chart. That would typically indicate a good fit as a short-yardage back, but that may not be the case in this instance.
MassLive.com's Nick Underhill reported Blount has actually been better in space, while struggling in goal line and other short-yardage situations.
Early signs point to Blount being positive and looking forward to training camp. He explained to the Providence Journal's Kevin McNamara, "I'm excited to be here. It's a winning program and we work a day at a time and everyone buys into everything that's going on here. You get a lot of help from a lot of the guys that are surrounding you.
The Patriots have a history of being able to get the best out of controversial players, with Corey Dillon and Randy Moss being the best recent examples. It's not unreasonable to think Blount could be next.
It's tempting to try and project how Blount may fit with the team, but the truth is nobody really knows.
He is clearly starting on the outside looking in, but injuries, struggles and other unforeseen factors can play major roles in the pecking order of a running back rotation. The Patriots didn't acquire him to dwell on his past mistakes. If he can produce, that will be all that matters for New England.
All Blount needs is another chance. Since he has already had plenty in his career, there is no telling how many more he may get. But he knows he must make the most of it and show he deserves the Patriots' faith. He told McNamara, "I'm going to always feel like I have something to prove. As a football player and as a competitor, I just always feel like I have something to prove."
In addition to the Yahoo! Contributor Network, Andrew Martin has written for Bleacher Report, and produces his own blog. He has also appeared on various sports talk shows and podcasts, and written on the topics of sports and history for a number of print publications and websites.
You can follow Andrew on Twitter @historianandrew
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