New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick isn't known for his effusive praise, but offered a more-than-average helping for running back LeGarrette Blount in his Wednesday press conference before the AFC Championship.
Belichick was asked to speak on fan excitement following a game that saw Blount run for a team-record four touchdowns in a win over the Indianapolis Colts.
LeGarrette has given us good football all year long, he really has. Certainly he's had some outstanding games recently, but he's been a solid player for us all the way through. You go back to the Atlanta game, that was a big game for us on the road. He did a great job in that game; gave us an explosive play that we really needed to win. I think everybody has a lot of confidence in him.
Blount has been a revelation for a Patriots team not known for a strong north-south running game. He finished with 772 yards and seven touchdowns in the regular season before breaking out. His development paired with reliable running from Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden could give New England the best ground game of the remaining playoff teams.
There were questions about whether Blount would gel in a locker room following his role in an incident at Boise State that saw the then-Oregon running back punch a defender and be suspended for the remainder of the season. As a result he found himself undrafted in 2010, but Belichick was complimentary of his role in the Patriots locker room.
I think LeGarrette's been great. He's been a good teammate. I think he has a good relationship with all the players, coaches on the team, defensive guys, defensive coaches, defensive players, all that. Look, he's a competitive guy who wants to do well. He works hard at his game. He tried to improve. He has improved. He's done the things we've asked him to do.
The Patriots face a Denver Broncos team dealing with several injuries on defense that could influence their ability to stop the New England running game. Stopping Blount will be key to winning, and it will be a fascinating matchup to watch.