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LeGarrette Blount thinks NFL Network disrespects Steelers' running backs

Don't doubt LeBackfield. That's the message Steelers running back LeGarrette Blount sent Wednesday at the Steelers' OTAs practice, writes BTSC's Dale Grdnic.

Al Bello

PITTSBURGH -- LeGarrette Blount believes the Pittsburgh Steelers running backs have been disrespected.

The bruising Blount was signed as a free agent this year to complement last year's second-round pick, Le'Veon Bell, who has more of a slashing style. Blount believed the duo could be lethal to the club's opposition this season.

Blount noted that while his body type and size make him an ideal power back, he has a variety of skill sets, such as catching the football and running away from defenders if he gets into the open field. But he certainly has proven he can run over them as well if necessary. Those attributes, combined with Bell's slashing style, should give the Steelers a solid one-two punch.

"I think we have a really good mix of running backs,'' Blount said. "(But) I've seen the NFL Network, and they have these top 10 or top five running back duos in the NFL. I noticed that we're not one of them, and I don't like it. In all honesty, I believe they're downgrading the skill level that we have in our backfield. ... So, I think that's kind of disrespectful.''

Does that mean Blount and Bell have something to prove?

"Well, we're not going to go out here and go on about how we're not in that group,'' Blount said. "But we're going to go out there and show that we belong there with our performance.''

Watch Neal Coolong's breakdown of what Blount brings to the Steelers' ground game

Bell looked forward to the competition and also believed the Steelers benefitted immensely with Blount's signing and the drafting of speedy Dri Archer.

"I'm not a selfish guy,'' Bell said. "I'm far from thinking about just myself. It's going to give me time to recuperate and be fresh out there. Blount, he's a big back, while Archer is really fast. So, we're all different, and that's good for our offense.''

While Bell's continued development will be interesting to watch, the addition of the 6-foot, 250-pound Blount gives the Steelers a proven power back for the first time since Jerome Bettis retired following the 2005 NFL season.

"That's my running style,'' Blount said Wednesday following the Steelers second OTA practice. "That's how I run the football, and I feel like Le'Veon is also a big, tough running back, too. So, that's just how this team is built, with a physical running game, and I think that's what they're trying to get back to.

"So, hopefully, we can do that. (But) I know they brought me in here to run the football, so I hope there are plenty of carries to go around. I know that (Le'Veon) Bell is going to get his fair share, so I hope there's enough for all of us. And I think we'll be all right.''

Blount pointed out that a balanced offense is needed to make a playoff run to the Super Bowl, such as the ones put on the field by Seattle and Denver last year. The champion Seahawks had Marshawn Lynch running the ball and Russell Wilson throwing it, while the Broncos ran the ball with Knowshon Moreno and had Peyton Manning throwing it.

"I think it's huge for us to (sign Blount), because I've always said that we need to be a balanced offense,'' Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "So, we need to run the ball. We need to be great at running the ball, and we've got guys that want to be great at running the ball. So, hopefully, we can do it and do it successfully.''

The way the Steelers offensive line performs will have a lot to say about how successful the team runs the ball.

"I think we have a good group of running backs,'' Steelers guard Ramon Foster said. "It's a pretty well-rounded group. They all can play, and they all can do some different things. So, we have a good starter right now with Le'Veon, but if someone needs to step in I'm more than sure there won't be a drop-off.

"I've known LeGarrette for a few years, but now that I have seen him for a couple days I think it was a nice addition to the running back group. (And) I'm really looking forward to those guys running behind our line.''

Notes: Former Kent State running back Dri Archer has missed the opening two OTAs, like linebacker Jordan Zumwalt from UCLA, because his school is on the quarters system and their class has not yet graduated. ... OTAs continue Thursday and also run Tuesday-Thursday next week.