Eagles

Eagles

You could understand if LeGarrette Blount was frustrated these days.
 
After getting nearly 19 carries a game for the Patriots last year, leading the NFL in touchdowns and helping the Pats win a Super Bowl, Blount now finds himself sharing the Eagles' backfield with a cast of thousands.
 
His carries are down 34 percent. He rarely gets the ball in the red zone anymore — just four carries in the last five games. He hasn't had more than 16 carries all year. In the Eagles' only loss, he didn't get the ball at all. 

On top of all that, just as he was getting into a groove, the Eagles made a crowded backfield even more crowded when they acquired Pro Bowl running back Jay Ajayi from the Dolphins.
 
Heck, most people would be frustrated.
 
"People on the outside might think LeGarrette is frustrated, but he’s not frustrated one bit," Corey Clement said. "He’s the happiest guy in our room that we have."
 
Despite the lack of carries, Blount has been terrific in his first year in Philly. He's rushed for 658 yards in 11 games and needs to average 68 yards the rest of the year to become the first back to rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons for different teams since Thomas Jones with the Jets and Bears in 2006 and 2007.
 
Most impressive is that 4.8 average.

 

That's beefy for anybody. But for a back in his 30s? It's a rarity.
 
Only eight running backs in NFL history have gained over 900 yards with an average that high after turning 30 — most recently Fred Jackson of the Bills and Willis McGahee of the Broncos in 2011.
 
The only NFC backs to rush for 900 yards and average 4.8 yards per carry in their 30s are Tony Canadeo of the Packers in 1949, Warrick Dunn of the Falcons in 2005 and the Giants’ Tiki Barber in 2005 and 2006.
 
"I've been a little bit surprised at his athleticism and agility," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. "It was more than I thought. 

"I said to him last week in practice, and I wasn't exaggerating, I thought he looked faster in practice last week than he's looked all year. So a credit to him and how he's continuing to work hard during the season and how hard he goes in practice."
 
Blount said he doesn't feel any different than earlier in the season, but the last three games, he's averaged 5.2 yards per carry.
 
He's had five games this year with 12 carries and a 4.8 average. Only eight running backs in their 30s have had more in a season.
 
“I don’t necessarily feel any faster or any slower," Blount said. "We’ve been working our tails off, all of us have, so maybe I’m seeing things a little bit quicker."
 
Blount says he's no different. Lane Johnson disagrees.
 
"He's trimmed down," Johnson said. "I mean, you see him walking around. He's got abs now. I don't think that's something he had in training camp. But yeah, he's really trimmed down. Lean. He's a lot leaner than he has been. If that makes you quicker around the ball, I'm fine with that. He looks good."
 
Is he leaner? Stronger? Faster?
 
Who knows? All we know is the LeGarrette Blount we saw in training camp is definitely not the guy we're seeing now.
 
"I don’t know what it is," Blount said. "But I’m definitely really comfortable at this point."
 
It can be tough feeling comfortable in an offense where you have no idea how many carries you're going to get week to week.
 
But Blount hasn't complained once. Even when he inexplicably got no carries against the Chiefs.
 
"Some games you can get no carries, some games you can get 10 carries, some games you can get 15 carries," he said. "It just goes based on how the game’s going, based on how the flow of the game is going, based on the score, what we need, position on the field. There’s a lot of things that play a factor into how many carries you get.
 
"You can’t go into the game and expect 15 or 20 carries and you go out there and get six. You just set yourself up for disappointment. I just go out there every game and whenever the opportunity presents itself I try to take advantage."
 
That selfless attitude has had a ripple effect on this team.
 
"You just know in his heart that he's in it for the team," Reich said. "And that's really the way it feels."
 
Other than Blount, this is a young group of running backs. Kenjon Barner is 27, but Ajayi is 24, Clement and Wendell Smallwood are 23, injured Donnel Pumphrey is 22.
 
Blount knows that the room goes as he goes.
 
If he showed any signs of being selfish or me-first, the whole delicate balance of a four-man rotation could easily collapse, and that could have a negative impact on the entire locker room.
 
Instead, he's emerged as a true team leader.
 
“I look at my role as, you know, obviously a guy that’s been in this league a long time," he said. "I know a lot of the younger guys look up to me and they look at what I do and how I prepare and how I perform and they take notice of it.
 
"But for the most part, these guys grew up fast, they’re young and they had to grow up fast because they’re being thrown into the fire early, so they look up to me as far as how long I’ve been in the league and how productive I've been and things like that, but I think for the most part, they’ve got it pretty under control."
 
Even with Darren Sproles out for the year, the Eagles are No. 2 in the NFL running the ball, behind only the Jaguars.
 
And Blount is the glue that holds it all together.
 
"You would have thought LeGarrette was just Santa Claus out there," Clement said. "He’s very giving. He wants everyone else to do great as well, and as a teammate that’s what we want.
 
"He just comes in with that energy and that swag. He knows how to win games, he knows how to win championships. So why not follow a guy like him, go in his footsteps, and just keep learning."