NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Sports

January 16, 2014

RB Blount leads Pats to AFC title game vs. Broncos

FOXBOROUGH — Check out the video of LeGarrette Blount.

Not the one of him punching an opponent at a college game. Or the one showing him smacking an NFL teammate during a preseason practice.

Try these: Blount returning kickoffs for 83 and 62 yards, and dashing 73, 36 and 35 yards for touchdowns, all in his last two games.

Given a chance by the New England Patriots to revive his career, the 250-pound back is running over and away from defenders while leaving behind images of a hot-headed youngster putting his future in jeopardy.

Back-to-back rushing performances of 189 and 166 yards have sparked a run on his jersey.

“It’s nice to know that people like me out here,” he said. “It’s nice to know that they’re enjoying the wins.”

At the Patriots Pro Shop, “in recent weeks, Blount’s jersey is in great demand,” team spokesman Stacey James said yesterday.

Bill Belichick is thrilled to have the real No. 29 for Sunday’s AFC championship game against the Broncos in Denver.

“LeGarrette’s been great,” the coach said. “He’s done the things we’ve asked him to do. When a player does that, I don’t think he can do anything but earn the respect of all the people around him.”

It’s quite a turnaround from an ugly moment in college when Blount punched Byron Hout, a Boise State defensive end who had taunted him at the end of Oregon’s loss in the opening game of Blount’s senior season in 2009. Blount was restrained by teammates and fuming as he was led toward the locker room — a scene still just a mouse-click away.

Oregon coach Chip Kelly suspended him for the season, and then reinstated him after eight games when he met academic and behavioral requirements.

They reunited last summer when the Patriots went to Philadelphia for joint practices with Kelly’s Eagles.

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