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O'HARA: Blount's specialty could help fix weakness on offense

LeGarrette Blount's specialty could help fix one of the biggest weaknesses on the Detroit Lions' offense.

Blount is a 247-pound power runner, and when he's at his best, he scores touchdowns and excels in short-yardage situations – especially near the goal line.

One man can't fix everything that's wrong with an offense, but if Blount is on his game he can put a spark in an offense that has suffered from a power outage.

Blount isn't claiming that he can fix the Lions' offense on his own, or that on his arrival he became the leader of the running backs.

"I'm just as new as they are in the offense," he said after Thursday's OTA practice. "If there's anything I can do to help them, I try to help them in any manner I can.

"They've made it pretty clear, we're here to grind, compete, work hard and get better every day. That's what we're all about right now."

Blount's resume indicates that he can give the Lions help where they need it.

Only two seasons ago, Blount rushed for 1,161 yards and a league-high 18 touchdowns for the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. He added one more touchdown and 109 yards in the playoffs.

Last season, Blount rushed for 766 yards and two regular-season touchdowns for the Super Bowl champion Eagles. He added 130 yards and three TDs in the playoffs.

Blount has been well traveled since beginning his career with Tampa Bay as an undrafted rookie in 2010. The Lions are his fifth team -- with two tours with the Patriots – but no matter where he's played he's found a path to the end zone. He has 51 rushing TDs in the regular season, and 11 more in 11 playoff games.

In the 2016 regular season he scored 11 touchdowns on one-yard runs.

"It's a collective effort," Blount said when asked Thursday what makes him so proficient at his specialty. "You can't do it individually. I can't run over 11 guys."

So how many can he run over? Only 10? Five?

It was a good-natured question, and Blount responded in the spirit it was asked.

"They only leave you with one guy to run over," he said. "Most of the times you have to beat him. There aren't many guys out there as big as me. I try my best to win that battle."

A good stat-bad stat comparison shows why Blount could be a key addition to the Lions' offense.

The good stat: On their own, the 11 rushing TDs in 2016 would have tied for sixth most overall in the league.

The bad stat: The Lions have been terrible in short yardage. Last year in situations of third and fourth down and two yards or less, they ranked 31st in the league with a 48.7-percent conversion rate on rushing attempts and gained a league-low eight first downs. The league averages were a 68.7-percent conversion rate and 17 first downs.

General manager Bob Quinn spoked pointedly at his post-draft press conference about the inability to convert in short yardage.

A glaring example of that was in a 20-15 loss to the Steelers at Ford Field in Game 8.

Trailing 13-12 late in the third quarter, the Lions had second and goal at the one. An incomplete pass, a run for no gain and a sack on fourth down left the Lions with nothing to show for a golden opportunity to take the lead – and control – of a critical game at an important juncture of the season.

Matthew Stafford looks forward to the potential of what Blount can add, but he isn't basing it on the offseason workouts.

"It's kind of hard to judge those guys right now," Stafford said. "They don't have pads on. Nobody's trying to tackle them. Those guys make their money on missed tackles.

"He's a bid dude – a big, physical guy who's played some big-time games for successful teams. It's nice to have him in that room, to have some of our younger guys pick his brain and see what it's all about."

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