NFL Training Camp: Former Oregon Ducks Shine for New England Patriots


As NFL Training Camp gets underway, competitions to make 53-Man Rosters are present in all 32 NFL franchises. When the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots opened camp on Thursday, the two biggest personnel questions are at running back and defensive back. At running back, Head Coach Bill Belichick returns only one consistent contributor (Former Duck LeGarrette Blount), while returning another ProDuck, Patrick Chung, at safety.

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Both played a pivotal role in New England’s Super Bowl run last season; Blount rushed for 148 yards and three touchdowns in the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts in the infamous “Deflategate Game,” while Chung recorded 7 tackles in a comeback victory over the Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional round. Blount played for NE in 2013-14, but jumped ship to Pittsburgh following the season on a two year deal worth $3.85 million. After being released in mid November, the Patriots signed him to a two year deal worth the league minimum, with possible incentives.

After playing the first portion of his career in New England, Chung left for a season to play for the Philadelphia Eagles but opted to return to New England on a one year contract. In January, he was signed to a 3 year deal worth up to 8 million.

Although Blount missed the first two practices due to a failed conditioning test, according to the Boston Herald, he was impressive in his first practice on Saturday. He’s already showing that he is capable of handling the bulk of New England’s carries after the departure of Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley. In the past, given his size, he’s proven that he can make plays with his hands as well, making it likely that he starts at running back for the Patriots following his 1 game suspension.

Chung is a veteran in a secondary that has lost Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, and Aqib Talib over the past two seasons. In Thursday’s non-padded workout, he was an apparent leader on defense, and set the tone for a competitive training camp by holding his ground in his assignment: defending Rob Gronkowski. He defended Gronkowksi as well as anyone in the league, further solidifying him as one of the best safeties in the game.

As training camp wears along, both Blount and Chung will have to prove that they are ready to step up as true leaders of their respective sides of the ball. Both will be replacing players who are heavily credited for the Patriots’ previous success, a task that will not be easy. Yet, they’ve both played major roles on a championship team already, leaving no doubt that they will “Do Their Job.”

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