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Game Rewind Film Room: Blount drops the hammer

The Steelers have gained speed on both sides of the ball, but Pittsburgh hasn't abandoned its quest to blast people with the run.

In an AFC North flush with talented young backs, Pittsburgh's stable of horses offers something for everyone: A long-term anchor in "Making the Leap" candidate Le'Veon Bell, a tantalizing X factor in rookie Dri Archer, and a hammer-dropping change-of-pace runner in LeGarrette Blount.

I went back and watched all of Blount's snaps for a closer look at what he can offer the Steelers come September:

What he is


Blount is all power. Thunder to Bell's lightning, the former Buccaneers and Patriots runner gives Pittsburgh a short-yardage pounder with the ability to draw blood.

He's far from elusive, but Blount is no cinch to bring down. After averaging five yards per carry during his 1,000-yard rookie campaign in 2010, he equaled that YPC figure again last season on 152 rushes with New England. Blount was one of only three backs with 150-plus carries to average five or more yards per tote in 2013.

The 250-pounder relies on strong blocking and struggles when he doesn't get it. Still, Blount's 2.7 yards after contact per attempt ranked seventh in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus. His strength can overwhelm smaller defenders.

He fit nicely into the power ground game New England leaned on down the stretch in 2013: Blount's 189 yards in the regular-season finale against the Bills was followed by his 166-yard, four-touchdown jaunt against the Colts in the AFC Divisional Playoffs.

What I saw in the postseason tilt was a bruising runner who -- in his best moments -- found the crease in short-yardage situations and helped wear down a winded defense.

As shown in the embedded clip, when Indy's thin front seven lost the battle at the line, Blount made the most of his adequate speed for chunk yardage into the secondary. He's an ideal late-game thumper: His first eight carries against the Colts netted 21 yards; his final eight chalked up 112.

What he isn't


For starters, he isn't a featured back. Blount is best used on a carry count between the tackles.

The Steelers, though, don't need him to wiggle outside when they have Bell's agility and lateral movement. Most of Blount's big bursts channeled through inside gaps, as he's not quick enough to beat defenders around the edge.

Ball protection is a concern after seeing Blount lose eight of his 12 fumbles over the past four seasons. His playing time in Pittsburgh will rely on mistake-free snaps that move the chains.

The future


Pittsburgh plucked Blount off the open market before the Ravens had a chance to. It's a move that should pay off in the rough-and-tumble AFC North.

As a runner expected to spell Bell for six to eight carries per game, Blount will get his chance to score touchdowns and chew up late-game yardage. As we saw in Tampa and New England, he can carry the load out of necessity, which should come in handy if the Steelers are chasing the playoffs and want to rest Bell for January.

In two offseasons, Pittsburgh has replaced a tired, bland stable of backs with youth (Bell), power (Blount) and speed (Archer). With Ben Roethlisberger running the show, the Black and Gold won't be an easy out in the AFC's most rugged division.

The latest "Around The League Podcast" ranked the best (and worst) quarterbacks in the NFL today.

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