Despite Historically Low Receiving Numbers, Eagles Could Involve LeGarrette Blount | NBC 10 Philadelphia

Despite Historically Low Receiving Numbers, Eagles Could Involve LeGarrette Blount

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    Despite Historically Low Receiving Numbers, Eagles Could Involve LeGarrette Blount
    CSNPhilly.com
    Despite historically low receiving numbers, Eagles could involve LeGarrette Blount

    No running back in the last 35 years has had more seasons with 10 or fewer catches.

    No running back in the last 60 years has had more career rushing yards without catching 50 passes.

    No running back in NFL history has had more seasons with 700 or more rushing yards and seven or fewer receptions.

    It's just something LeGarrette Blount has never done.

    Blount, the Eagles' high-profile offseason running back acquisition, is one of only three players in NFL history with 5,000 or more rushing yards and fewer than 50 career receptions.

    The others are both former Eagles - Steve Van Buren, who ran for 5,860 yards but caught 45 passes, and Michael Vick, who ran for 6,109 yards in his career and caught two passes.

    Blount has 5,122 career rushing yards but just 46 receptions. He did somehow catch 15 passes for the Buccaneers back in 2011, but the last five years he's averaged just 5.2 catches per season.

    For the sake of comparison, during the four-year stretch from 2004 through 2007, Brian Westbrook averaged 5.5 receptions per game.

    Blount's biggest years have been 2010 and 2011 with the Buccaneers and 2013 and 2016 with the Patriots.

    His rushing totals those four years: 1,007, 781, 772 and 1,161 yards.

    His receiving totals those years: Five, two, six and seven catches.

    Four times in his career Blount has rushed for more touchdowns than he's had receptions.

    In eight career playoff games, Blount has caught one pass. For eight yards. 

    Blount has never had more than three catches in a game.

    So now that we've established that no running back in modern NFL history has been less of a weapon as a receiver, let's try to figure out where Blount fits in here.

    Eagles running backs have historically been pass catchers, not just in the Andy Reid offense run by Reid and Doug Pederson but under Rich Kotite, Ray Rhodes and even Buddy Ryan.

    Only Chip Kelly didn't like to throw to the backs.

    In fact, in the last 30 years, the Eagles have had 23 backs rush for 700 or more yards. Only three of those had fewer than 40 catches -- Earnest Jackson in 1985 (10), Herschel Walker in 1992 (38) and LeSean McCoy in 2014 (career-low 28).

    Blount has an NFL-record four seasons with 100 or more carries and seven or fewer catches.

    The last Eagle running back to do that was Ken Keller in 1956.

    All of which takes us to 2017.

    Blount is here, in an offense where the backs have to catch the football.

    The Eagles have two options. Don't play him on passing downs. Or use the preseason to assimilate Blount into the passing game for the first time in his life.

    "I think it's going to surprise a few people," running backs coach Duce Staley said. "He can catch the ball. Sent him on a couple wheel routes a couple times (during OTAs) and he beat the linebacker. He was open, and he can catch the ball in the flat, and I'd love to get him some screens set up to where he can get that big body going north. He can scare some people."

    Blount said the only reason he's never caught a lot of passes is that he's never been asked to catch passes.

    He's a classic straight-ahead power runner who's been used that way every stop of his career.

    "I don't too much pay attention to what fans think about my skill set," he said.

    "I know what I can do. They know what I can do. If it's called for me to catch the ball, I do. I don't drop passes. Whatever it is (they want me) to do, I'm going to do it.

    "We have a good pass-catcher in 43 (Darren Sproles), but if I need to do it, then I will do it."

    Head coach Doug Pederson knows that if any running back doesn't get involved in the running game, the offense gets predictable when he's on the field.

    He said he liked what he's seen of Blount in the passing game during the four weeks of minicamps.

    "Yeah, he's actually a pretty good pass catcher," Pederson said. "When you watch him at practice and in some of the drills that we've put him in, he's pretty smooth.

    "Maybe he doesn't have the numbers and all that, and he hasn't been used that way, but I'm very comfortable putting him in situations where we can throw him the ball."