The Steelers are packing weight in their backfield even as their offensive line is becoming more sleek and aerodynamic.
After the signing of LeGarrette Blount Friday (a two-year deal, writes NFP's Aaron Wilson), the Steelers add some thunder to the thunder of Le'Veon Bell.
Bell was a highly successful zone runner in college, combining the look of power with deceptive quickness and agility. Blount has little deceptive aspects of his game - he comes straight downhill at 245 pounds.
Nicknamed The Winnebago, all a big back in Pittsburgh needs is a nickname. In bringing Blount on, the Steelers are indicating they're preparing to run both zone and power concepts as a team that averaged 28 points a game over their last eight contests (just over 20 per game in the previous 24). The contrasting style of Bell's nimble feet and Blount sledgehammer shoulder will give the Steelers variation for situational football.
The addition of offensive line coach Mike Munchak this offseason suggests the Steelers will be implementing more of a zone concept in their running game, but the combination of Bell and Blount, and the obvious strategic position that places them in, likely means the offense should expect to dig deeply into their running game playbooks come training camp.
Blount, a successful running back at the University of Oregon, gained an infamous reputation when he punched a Boise State player after a game his senior year in 2009. He was initially suspended for the remainder of the season, but was eventually re-instated. He went undrafted in 2010, and signed a free agent contract with the Tennessee Titans. He got in a fight during training camp with a teammate, but still made the 53-man roster, only to be released soon afterward. Tampa Bay picked him up, and he played there until he was traded in 2013 to New England. He set a Patriots record for touchdowns in a playoff game with four in a win over Indianapolis.
The Steelers picking him up fills a need, but it also gives the Steelers the best combination of young backs they've had at the position in the last few seasons. A much more powerful runner than either Isaac Redman or Jonathan Dwyer, Blount likely will find himself on a five to eight touch per game count, but that very well could increase with a successful team rushing effort.