I’ve long thought the door was wide open for LeGarrette Blount to win the Tennessee Titans’ third running back slot, unless they later found someone on waivers they considered a bit of an upgrade.
Even before Stafon Johnson’s season-ending injury, Blount looked to be the sort of big back changeup the team needs to go with Chris Johnson and Javon Ringer.
Blount’s well known for his lengthy suspension at Oregon for throwing a punch in postgame altercation with Boise State that created an uproar, but has been on his best behavior in Tennessee.
Until the end of the Titans’ practice Wednesday night.
He punched defensive end Eric Bakhtiari in the face mask as the team wrapped up its session.
Snippets from Jim Wyatt’s report:
Blount said defensive players have been pushing the limit throughout training camp.
“Two plays in a row they pulled my helmet off intentionally, and then they did it again,” Blount said. “They almost do it every day. They grab you by the back of the head and pull your helmet off. They know that automatically calls the play dead. They kept egging on and provoking ’til it got to a certain point. They did it to everybody…”
Blount was the ball carrier when his helmet was knocked off and several defensive players shoved him. When defensive end Eric Bakhtiari got in his face, Blount punched him in a manner that was eerily similar to last year’s infamous poke. Bakhtiari was wearing a helmet. …
“I promised to [Jeff Fisher] it was behind me and that was in my past and it just came up again,” a dejected Blount said. “I got into a situation where the defense pushed me too far.”
Fisher defended Blount, who missed practices on Monday and Tuesday after the death of his grandmother.
“I am not disappointed whatsoever,” Fisher said. “His past is his past. Is that the first punch you’ve seen at camp this year? No. OK. I am not disappointed whatsoever. I have great confidence in the young man that he has learned from his mistake and is very competitive.”
Here’s audio from Titans Radio of Blount and Fisher.
I’ll lean toward Fisher and Ahmard Hall here and say while it’d be better if Blount was able to steer clear of anything, this didn’t qualify as some major step backward, though it’s going to draw a good deal of attention.
Said Hall to Wyatt: “If anybody else was to get mad it wouldn’t be a question, it would just be a guy getting mad. But because it’s LeGarrette Blount, everybody wants to bring up his past. Guys pushed him and he reacted, but it has nothing to do with what happened to him in the past.”