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LeGarrette Blount gives Patriots a pick-me-up

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
Patriots' Legarrette Blount breaks away from Lions' James Ihedigbo for a long first down in the fourth quarter.  Blount led both teams in rushing with 78 yards on 12 carries and 2 touchdowns.

Maybe it was another example of the Sports Illustrated jinx.

Patriots running back Jonas Gray, who rushed for 201 yards and a franchise-record four rushing touchdowns last week against the Colts, was the toast of the NFL for a few days, gracing the cover of the magazine this week after his big performance.

On Sunday, Gray (Detroit Country Day) didn't play at all against the Lions after showing up late for practice Friday. He was sent home Friday and didn't get on the field Sunday, as coach Bill Belichick chose to go with LeGarrette Blount and Shane Vereen instead.

"We do what we think is best," Belichick said. "That's what we did today."

Blount, who played with the Patriots last season, was released by the Steelers last week for leaving the field before the end of the game. New England added him to the roster Thursday and he was the key running back in their 34-9 victory over the Lions. Blount had 12 carries for 78 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

With a short week of practice and having to be reintroduced to the offensive scheme, Blount had a bit of trouble trying to readjust, but soon found a comfort level.

"It's kind of difficult, considering the fact that I only came in a few days ago. So, I was used to hearing and listening to different terminology," he said. "But for the most part, as we went along, I started picking things up. So it's not bad.

"I was prepared for anything. I came in and they told me, 'Just be prepared for whatever we use you for.' So I just made sure I was ready."

Against the No. 1 rush defense in the league, the Patriots didn't try to run the ball as much as last week, when they totaled 44 carries for 246 yards. Against the Lions, they totaled 20 carries for 90 yards as quarterback Tom Brady went 38-of-53 for 349 yards and two touchdowns.

The Patriots showed their versatility with being able to run or pass as necessary to counter what the defense has available, without having to force either one.

"We just try to do what we think we need to do to win, that's all," Belichick said. "I don't know about any other team or league trends or anything. We're just trying to win the game."

Blount credited the offensive line for creating running lanes for him to be able to get through and get space for some of his big runs, including runs of 23 and 33 yards in the second half.

"The offensive line just went out there and did their job; they did a really good job. They were opening up some nice spaces for me to run though," Blount said. "When you get into the second level, you have to break a couple tackles and that's what makes the long runs. But for the most part, (the Lions) played well; we just played better."

It's only the second time that Blount has had more than 30 yards rushing in a game this season. He had 10 carries for 118 yards for the Steelers in Week 3 against the Panthers, but hadn't been used much since.

Gray said he was late for practice because he set his alarm on his cell phone and his phone battery died. It's unclear what Gray's role will be going forward, but Brady didn't want to get into the situation with Gray.

"I don't have much comment on that. I love when everyone is out there contributing, so that's usually the way I love it the most," Brady said. "Hopefully, he's out there next week."

Brady did talk about Blount's contributions, citing his positives that helped him make the big runs against the Lions defense.

"He made some really great runs. He's a big guy, he runs hard, and once he breaks your defense, he's got a little bit of explosion," Brady said. "So it was great to see on a couple of those big runs. We're going to need a lot more of it."