'We got close': Bond with Patricia helps bring LeGarrette Blount to Lions

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — They weren’t on the same side of the ball, but Matt Patricia and LeGarrette Blount cultivated a strong enough bond in New England that it facilitated the running back’s signing with the Detroit Lions where he’ll be reunited with the former Patriots defensive coordinator and new Lions head coach.

“Anytime I ever saw him,” Blount said in a conference call with Detroit reporters, “in any part of the building, whether it was walking by him in the hallways, the cafeteria, at practice, whatever the circumstances may be, anytime we were around each other, it was always laughs and jokes. Obviously, we’d get serious when it was time to do the job, but for the most part, we’d laugh, we’d joke, we’d clown around. We really enjoyed each other. And it got to the point where we got really close.”

Buried somewhere in Blount’s closet is a hooded sweatshirt, a parody of the Patriots logo where the face is replaced with Patrica’s profile. Blount admits he gave a passing thought to wearing it on his visit with the Lions last week, just to see Patricia’s reaction.

“I almost wore just to give him a laugh and giggles, but obviously it’s a business interview, so you have to dress up and look nice,” Blount said.

Blount ended up signing a one-year contract with the Lions on Friday night, after meeting with the team’s brass. The $2 million deal, which includes another potential $2.5 million in incentives, marks the third straight year he’s played on a one-year deal.

The 31-year-old back said the short-term offers don’t bother him at all.

“I don’t mind one-year deals,” he said. “That’s just something that goes back to that’s not the part of the business I handle. That’s the part of the business my agent, the head coach and whoever else handles that part. Me, personally, I just want to make a decision where I can put myself in the right situation to be successful and help another team be successful. That’s what my ultimate goal is, to make sure I’m in the right situation, that I’m what the team needs.”

Blount is certainly a piece the Lions need. He went out of his way to praise the team’s other running backs, but that stable struggled to get things done last year, finishing last in the league in rushing yards and yards per carry. The Lions were especially bad in short-yardage situations, an area where the 250-pound Blount has had plenty of success.

Blount rushed for 766 yards on 173 carries last season, averaging 4.4 yards per carry.

“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do everything we wanted to do last year, so we’re trying to make that better,” Blount said, already assuming responsibilities for his new job. “We’re trying to make that part of the of the offense better. Even though these guys are good, there’s nothing wrong with making it better and better. Obviously, the Eagles brought in Jay Ajayi last year to make the offensive run game better, too. My job is to add value and our goal is to do our jobs together.”

The small goal is to improve the running game, with the larger goal being to reach the Super Bowl. That’s something Blount has plenty of experience with, earning three rings the past four years, including championships the past two seasons with New England in 2017 and Philadelphia this past February.

Will he be the good-luck charm the Lions need to exorcise their postseason demons?

“I don’t believe it’s luck,” Blount said. “I just believe it’s hard work. You’ve got to grind for everything you get in this league — scratch, claw for everything you get. There’s no luck involved. All 32 teams are going out there with one common goal.

“Everybody works their tails to get to that last game — you fight, you scratch, you claw, you bleed with your brothers. It’s the mentality that you refuse to be denied and that’s just something that I want to bring to Detroit. You just got to have to refuse to be denied what you think you’ve earned throughout the whole process.”