Blount's big game, talk of Titans' mistake

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Hindsight says the Tennessee Titans shouldn’t have cut running back LeGarrette Blount before the 2010 season.

Tennessee brought him in as an undrafted rookie out of Oregon, where he’d been in some trouble, most notably for a punch he threw at a Boise State opponent that earned him a lengthy suspension.

He had a solid camp for the Titans, but also had an incident where he punched a teammate during a practice.

He carried 31 times for 118 yards and two touchdowns in the Titans' preseason.

But the guy who beat him out to be the primary backup to Chris Johnson, 2009 fifth-round pick Javon Ringer, had 25 carries for 165 yards and two touchdowns.

Blount made the initial 53-man roster, but then the Titans collected a couple veteran linebackers to be core special teams guys -- Tim Shaw and Patrick Bailey -- and cut the running back.

Tennessee intended to sign him to its practice squad, but Tampa Bay claimed Blount.

It was hardly the catastrophic roster move many Titans fans made it out to be at the time.

Johnson, Ringer and fullback Ahmard Hall were all in line for carries ahead of him. Blount would have been inactive most weeks as a fourth back, and the Titans needed functional special teams contributors who would play every week.

Blount carried 201 times for the Bucs as a rookie, for 1,007 and six touchdowns. So, after the fact, it was easy to say the Titans should have kept him. He would not, however, have gotten nearly that much work in Tennessee. Johnson got 316 carries for 1,364 yards that season.

But Blount fell off after that big rookie year. In 2011, he carried 184 times for 781 yards and five touchdowns, and in 2012 he got the ball 41 times for 151 yards and two touchdowns.

He was then traded to New England for running back Jeff Demps and a seventh-round pick.

This season, Blount was part of a trio of backs that helped New England become much more of a running team. He carried 153 times for 772 yards and seven touchdowns.

In Saturday's divisional round playoff win against Indianapolis, he had a stellar game with 24 carries for 166 yards and four touchdowns. And that performance ignited a whole new round of second-guessing for Jeff Fisher and the 2010 Titans.

Sure, they should have kept Blount back then. He’s turned out to be a better player than Ringer, who reached free agency in 2013 and was not re-signed. The Titans signed Shonn Greene to a three-year, $10 million deal to work as a bigger back with Johnson.

Four seasons after the Titans brought Blount to camp, he certainly would be a better, and cheaper, complement to Johnson. I’m not arguing that point.

They should have been able to project what Blount could become and created room for him.

Still, in 2010, the Titans' rationale for doing something else was hardly absurd.