LeGarrette Blount willing to split carries but unsure of role with Eagles

LeGarrette Blount willing to split carries but unsure of role with Eagles

When the Eagles officially signed running back LeGarrette Blount on Thursday morning, the team added the biggest missing piece of its backfield puzzle. 

A huge piece of the puzzle. 

While the impact of the Blount signing won't be known for a while, there's no denying the running back's literal size. The newest hulking Eagle showed up for his introductory press conference testing the seams on the sleeves of his new long-sleeve shirt. 

The 30-year-old Blount is listed by the Eagles at 6-foot, 250 pounds, although a quick spin around the World Wide Web will produce several different variations of weight. 

So just how much does he weigh? 

"The weight I need to be at," he said with a smile. 

OK then. 

Blount used his 250-pound (or whatever) frame to plow into the end zone a league-leading 18 times with the Patriots last season. He was equally as impressive in short-yardage situations, where he converted 13 of 19 attempts. 

At 250 pounds, Blount is by far the Eagles' biggest running back. In fact, the only players heavier than him on the roster are linemen and tight ends. Because of his size and ability in short-yardage situations, it seems likely Blount will, at the very least, be the Eagles' go-to back when they need to pick up a crucial yard or two. 

"They haven't given me a role," he said Thursday afternoon. "They haven't placed me under any category just yet. Before I do all that, I have to go out here and learn the offense, learn the playbook, learn what I'm going to be good at, what I'm going to be required and recommended to do. I have to figure out that part before they label me with anything."

Blount joins a running back group in Philadelphia that includes Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood and Donnel Pumphrey (Ryan Mathews is on the roster, but is expected to be cut once healthy). 

It's unclear just how much or how little the Eagles will work Blount in 2017, but if it comes to a running-back-by-committee approach, would he be on board? 

"I've played with other running backs before," Blount said. "I split time with Stevan Ridley, I split time with Cadillac Williams. I've split the load with guys before, so it doesn't bother me." 

Blount, who will turn 31 in December, is coming off a career season for the Super Bowl champion Patriots. He carried the ball 299 times for a career-high 1,161 yards and 18 touchdowns. 

To put those 299 carries into perspective, the Eagles have had a running back carry the ball that much just six times in franchise history and two of those years came with LeSean McCoy in Chip Kelly's offense. It happened just one time in the 15 years of being led by either Andy Reid or Doug Pederson; in Reid's first season as head coach, with a rookie Donovan McNabb, Duce Staley carried the ball 325 times.

If the Eagles do employ a RB-by-committee system, it seems unlikely Blount will come anywhere near his workload from last season. And, heck, Pederson isn't exactly known for running the football. 

"As a running back, you want to get into a rhythm of the game, see how the defense is playing, what the flow of the game is," Blount said. "I wouldn't necessarily put a number on (how many carries he needs), but after a few, you can kind of tell." 

Despite the huge workload last season, in which his 30th birthday fell, Blount on Thursday said he feels great, "amazing" even. 

Blount confirmed other teams were interested in him but declined to list them by name. He also said the Patriots were interested in bringing him back. 

But, instead, he joined an Eagles team that seemed to be one big back away from completing its offense around Carson Wentz, whom Blount said has the possibility to be "special." 

So maybe add that to the list of reasons he became an Eagle. 

"I chose Philly because I thought it was the best fit for me," he said. "I like the guys here. I like the way they do things around here. I like the way they play ball. I felt like this was the perfect fit for me."

Eagles have NFL's best offensive line, according to Pro Football Focus

Eagles have NFL's best offensive line, according to Pro Football Focus

Thanks to Lane Johnson’s suspension and a few injuries, the Eagles' offensive line unit wasn’t what most expected it to be in 2016. Should things go according to plan on the O-line in 2017, expectations are high. For Pro Football Focus, they’re as high as it gets.

PFF ranked the Eagles’ O-line No. 1 in the entire league heading into this season, citing the fact that it has the “fewest holes.”

Center Jason Kelce is considered their biggest question mark, but even though his abilities have faded a bit with age, he hasn’t missed a snap in two seasons. That has to count for something.

Allen Barbre and second-year Eagle Brandon Brooks, who allowed just one sack last season, complete the line’s interior. Then, of course, the tackle tandem of Jason Peters and Lane Johnson is hard to beat. PFF says Johnson, when on the field, was the best right tackle last season. Johnson would agree.

Even beyond the first-team unit, the Eagles have experience. Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Isaac Seumalo both saw unexpected snaps as rookies last season because of the reshuffling. That should help moving forward.

Rounding out PFF’s top three are the Browns and Steelers. Cleveland boosted its corps by signing J.C. Tretter and Kevin Zeitler in free agency. The Steelers had the best unit during the second half of last season.

More notably for Eagles fans, the Cowboys come in at No. 9 in PFF’s rankings after owning one of the league’s best O-lines in recent years. Ronald Leary and Doug Free are gone, and La’el Collins’ move to right tackle is not a sure bet for success.

Washington sits two slots below at No. 11. PFF considers continuity the 'Skins' greatest strength — they return all five O-line starters from last season and four of five from 2015.

And the Giants, well, it’ll take some scrolling to reach their spot on the list: No. 28. Left tackle Ereck Flowers was the worst among his position in pressures allowed as a rookie. Eli Manning could be in for a busy season.

NFL Notes: Saints DT Nick Fairley to miss 2017 season with heart condition

NFL Notes: Saints DT Nick Fairley to miss 2017 season with heart condition

METAIRIE, La. -- Saints defensive tackle Nick Fairley is coming off one of his best NFL seasons and it might have been his last.

At the very least, he won't be playing for New Orleans in 2017.

General manager Mickey Loomis said Monday that Fairley has been placed on the team's reserve list with a non-football illness designation, meaning the 2016 starter is out for this season.

The 6-foot-4, 308-pound Fairley had a career-best 6 sacks for the Saints last season, after which he signed a four-year extension worth up to $28 million.

However, symptoms related to an enlarged heart caused Fairley to miss offseason practices and minicamp while he saw specialists to determine whether playing football would be an undue health risk.

Saints coach Sean Payton has said at least one specialist recommended that the 29-year-old Fairley -- a former Auburn star and 2011 first-round draft pick by Detroit -- give up football. Payton also had mentioned that he wanted to be sure Fairley wouldn't return unless he was confident enough in his health to play to his full potential.

"The most important thing right now in our mind is his well-being," Payton said earlier this month, when Fairley's status for this season was still in doubt.

"To play this game, there's a little bit of mental toughness involved, obviously. I want to make sure, if in fact he's playing it, again that he's playing with full confidence that he's healthy to play and that nothing severe would come of him playing."

Vikings: Floyd sentenced to 1 day in jail
An Arizona judge has ordered Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Michael Floyd to serve one day in jail for failing alcohol tests that he blames on a type of fermented tea.

Floyd and his lawyer did not attend the Scottsdale City Court hearing and had a teleconference with Judge Statia Hendrix.

The hearing was meant to give Floyd the chance to make his case regarding the failed alcohol tests and another one he missed earlier this month, which stemmed from a 2016 drunken driving arrest where Scottsdale police say they found him passed out behind the wheel.

Vikings officials say they encouraged Floyd to drink a fermented tea called kombucha.

Hendrix ordered Floyd start his additional jail time Monday evening in Phoenix before concluding his final five days of house arrest.

Panthers: Newton throws for 1st time since shoulder surgery
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Cam Newton is throwing again.

The Panthers said on Twitter on Monday the NFL's Most Valuable Player in 2015 threw his first passes since surgery in March for a partially torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder.

Newton is on schedule to participate in the team's training camp in July and barring setbacks should be ready for the start of the season.

The Panthers released a short black-and-white video of Newton throwing in the team's locker room.

Newton turned down interview requests through the team's public relations staff. He said on the team's website that while he's not 100 percent it felt "cool" to be throwing for the first time in six months.

Packers: Former RB Ahman Green charged with child abuse
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Former Green Bay Packers running back Ahman Green was charged Monday with felony child abuse after his 15-year-old daughter told police he punched her in the face.

Green, 40, is also charged with disorderly conduct in the incident late Sunday in the Green Bay suburb of Ledgeview.

According to a criminal complaint, Green's daughter told police that he struck her in the face in a dispute over getting her to do the dishes. She also said he threw her to the ground and against kitchen cabinets.

According to the complaint, Green told deputies he "may have" thrown his daughter to the ground and against cabinets. He said he slapped her in the head and believed he may have hit her glasses, causing a swollen eye, according to the complaint.

A court commissioner ordered Green's release Monday on a $2,500 signature bond after ordering him to have no contact with his daughter or others who may have witnessed the incident.

The Green Bay Press-Gazette reports Green's next court appearance was set for July 11, to give him time to hire an attorney. Green appeared in court via teleconference from the Brown County Jail. Lee Schuchart, a public defender representing Green at Monday's appearance, called the incident "a constitutional issue" involving "parental rights."

Lammi Sports Management, which has handled Green's appearances, had no immediate comment.

Green was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 2014. He is the team's all-time leading rusher and a four-time Pro Bowl selection.

Green starred at Nebraska, then spent the first two seasons of his 12-year NFL career in Seattle. He played for Houston in 2007-08, but spent most of his career in Green Bay, his last season coming in 2009.