Titans rookie running back LeGarrette Blount knows it’s a privilege to be playing pro football.
For most of last season at Oregon University, he couldn’t play football at all; he was suspended 10 games after punching Boise State defensive end Byron Hout in the jaw following a 19-8 loss.
The effects of the suspension, and his newly acquired reputation based on the incident, reached into his pro career. Despite running for over 1,000 yards and scoring a school-record 17 touchdowns his junior year, Blount went undrafted in 2010.
“It hurt me in the draft, the punch and me being suspended for the season,” he said. “Nobody really had anything to look at and evaluate me and my performance.”
The Titans signed Blount as an undrafted free agent, and the back is working hard to earn his spot. He isn’t concerned with skeptics and critics.
“It sucks,” Blount said. “It sucks that I went undrafted, but all I wanted was another chance to get in the league. From then on I’ve proved to everybody that I belong here. Of course there are going to be people that think I don’t deserve a second chance, but it doesn’t really matter what they think because they don’t control anything that has to do with me.”
Blount, who was a bit late arriving to team activities this spring, struggled initially with the change in climate. But he’s looking to veteran running backs such as Jevon Ringer and Alvin Pearman for advice and getting in synch with Titans practice.
“I had a tough first day with the heat and humidity,” he recalled. “Today went really well; I had a complete turnaround. I had my legs up under me and started to catch my recovery really quick.”
Besides other running backs, Blount cites quarterback Vince Young as a teammate who is helping him adjust.
“I’ve talked with Vince Young a lot,” said Blount. “They [veterans] just let me know the ropes about what I have to do, and what I should and shouldn’t do. I take their advice and try to make sure that I don’t make the mistakes they tell me not to make.”
The six-foot, 240-pound Blount is excited about helping the Titans out as a power running back. He hopes to help move the chains in short yardage situations.
“I’m just trying to fill my role by being a big power running back,” he said. “That’s what I’m hoping to accomplish, and that’s what everybody is expecting me to do. With the departure of Lendale White, I have that chance.”
Blount is straightforward and soft-spoken, which makes it easy to detect his sincerity when he discusses capitalizing on his chance with the Titans. He said he aims to maximize every rep he gets this summer. It’s a time to make a mark in the eyes of the ones who determine playing time: the coaches. For Blount, it’s a shot he’s not taking lightly.
“I’m really happy Coach Fisher gave me an opportunity to make a difference on this team,” he said.