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LeGarrette Blount settling in with Steelers

8/7/2014

LATROBE, Pa. -- LeGarrette Blount did not get off to the best start at training camp with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

He struggled during early backs-on-'backers drills and nearly started a brawl when he jumped on linebacker Vince Williams after Williams and running back Le'Veon Bell had wrestled to the ground in the one-on-one blocking drill.

The scene that took place at Memorial Stadium showed that Blount, whose college career ended ignominiously after he punched a player following an Oregon loss, is still prone to letting his emotions get the better of him.

But if the Steelers are worried about that becoming an issue they are doing a good job of hiding it.

"Easy for me to work with," running backs coach James Saxon said of Blount. "Great for the (running backs) room and the guy’s an outstanding runner. Very prideful guy. Comes to work every single day. Wants to do it right."

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin agreed.

"He works hard, he’s a competitor, he’s a football lover," Tomlin said. "Good attributes. I think he’s doing great."

The Steelers signed Blount to a two-year, $3.85 million contract in March and that seemed like a bargain considering how he had trampled the Indianapolis Colts' defense for New England in a playoff win two months earlier.

And that he had emerged as the Patriots’ best running back by the end of the 2013 season.

Blount not commanding more money on the open market might have been a commentary on the running back position, and how it has become devalued with the NFL increasingly becoming a pass-first league.

It might also have served as a reminder that Blount has not completely outrun his past -- and the punch that threatened to define his football career.

Blount went undrafted in 2010 but he rushed for more than a 1,000 yards as a rookie that season in Tampa Bay. The 6-0, 250-pounder enters his fifth NFL season with a gaudy 4.7 yards per carry average.

Blount, now with his fourth NFL team, will back up Bell. The two have become fast friends, and the Steelers have to hope that friendship won’t get tested when carries have to be divvied up among Bell, Blount and rookie speedster Dri Archer.

Saxon does not consider that loss of emotional control during a drill -- Blount also nearly squared off with defensive assistant Joey Porter after he was pulled off Williams -- an accurate snapshot of who Blount is.

"Out there these guys are working real hard, competing and sometimes your emotions get the best of you," Saxon said. "He’s got to be aware of when and how far he can go. He’s smart enough to do that. He’s very, very good for this football team."