The Patriots list LeGarrette Blount at 6-0, 250, yet the running back seems at times to play much lighter than that – like when he scampered 41 yards for a touchdown last Thursday night while outracing the Houston defense to the end zone.
When asked today if he's slimmed down at all this season, Blount replied with a smile, "I don't know. How much do you trust your eyes?"
Even anyone with poor vision can clearly see that the veteran ball carrier has had a memorable September. Through three games, Blount leads all NFL rushers with 298 yards on the ground and is tied (with San Diego's Melvin Gordon) for the league lead in rushing touchdowns (4). Those numbers have led to Blount earning his first-ever AFC Offensive Player of the Month award.
"It's an honor, man, but it was a group effort. It wasn't all me," the 29-year-old insisted. "I know I get most of the recognition now, but it trickles down from the offensive line to the tight ends to the fullback, to the wide receivers. They all play a part in how I've been able to play.
"I prepare the same as always. I made sure I was prepared for the opportunity, and I know I have a great supporting cast with everybody here. Opportunities presented themselves. You just have to take advantage of them."
Interestingly, those opportunities have come mostly after halftime. Nearly three out of every four yards that Blount has gained thus far have come in the second half of each of New England's first three contests. Ironically, in each of those games, the Patriots have had leads over their opponents, meaning the defenses have known that New England would try to drain the clock by running the ball. Yet, Blount has been most successful in the third and fourth quarters.
"You've got to be able to be tough, to run the football when they know you're running it and when they don't know you're running it," he continued. "We have to continue to play balanced football, complementary football – offense, defense, special teams. It all factors in how we've been playing."
Is that league-leading rushing success sustainable over the course of the 16-game NFL season and, in all likelihood, the playoffs?
"I don't know. We'll see," Blount shrugged. "We play the games differently. If the games call for us to run the football, we're going to do it. Just got to lace 'em up and do whatever the coaches tell you to do. I'm just going to make sure I take all the necessary steps to make sure we can continue to be successful, continue to be a good team."
Blount laughed at his own answer when asked what step is most important for him to take.
"Listen to Bill [Belichick]... As simple as it gets."
The path for Blount has not always been a smooth one in the NFL. Through good times and bad, however, he says he's always been able to rely on Belichick to support him and keep giving him chances to play when others may have lost patience with him, both on and off the field.
"I have a really good relationship with Bill now. I love Bill to death," Blount declared. "He's always had my back from the beginning, first time I met him. I like everything he does, I respect him a lot. I think he's going to go down as the best coach ever."
What Blount cited in particular that he likes about being in New England is the family atmosphere that he and his teammates have cultivated – an atmosphere that is so close that even the head coach refers to Blount by his nickname, L.G.
"That's what everybody calls me," he grinned. "Can't complain if someone calls you that because L.G. stands for 'Life's good,' right?"
For Blount and the 3-0 Patriots these days, it certainly is.
Belichick decided to have his team take the pads off for practice today – a rarity on a Thursday. The Patriots held a walkthrough probably because they've had an extra day to practice this week, starting on Tuesday after having had the prior weekend off.
The Thursday walkthrough session wasn't the only oddity, however. LB Dont'a Hightower arrived wearing a pair of fluffy slippers, while fellow 'backer Jamie Collins showed up with his hands in plastic bags that were taped to his wrists. Neither player was available afterward to explain their peculiar wardrobe decisions.
One player who did take a few media questions was newcomer John Hughes. The fifth-year defensive lineman, just three days into his Patriots tenure, was a man of few words, but already seems to understand "The Patriot Way."
"Seeing what I've seen," said Hughes, "I know I've got to work hard and compete."