#DigSportsDesk - The Lede

NFL: Patriots' Blount Off to Great Start

FOXBORO -- New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount topped 100 yards for the second straight week and reached the end zone twice in the win over Houston, including a 41-yard scamper in the fourth quarter that shut the door on the Texans. Through three games, Blount has 75 carries for 298 yards with four touchdowns for the undefeated Patriots.

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    Though many thought the veteran might be in a fight for his job this summer as the lead back or big back in the New England offense, Blount is off to the best start of his career. He's clearly enjoying himself in his role early in the season, and also clearly has the utmost faith in Bill Belichick to put him and the rest of his teammates in the best position possible to succeed each and every week.

    "In my opinion he's the greatest coach to ever coach this game so anything he says I'm going to do and I feel like that goes for anybody else on this team. The results, the results speak for themselves," Blount said.

    --LB Jamie Collins had a game-high 14 tackles, including 11 solo stops in the win over Houston. The Pro Bowler also notched an interception, his second in as many games.

    Collins put forth the impressive performance while wearing the green-dot helmet as New England's defensive playcaller, a role he assumes when linebacker Don't Hightower is unavailable, as he's been the last two games due to a knee injury.

    Now, Collins incredible versatility and athleticism are combined with improved comfort and intelligence in his role. It's all coming together for the fourth-year player and impending 2017 free agent.

    "It can be a contagious thing and Jamie's an impact hitter," Bill Belichick said of the playmaking and hitting that Collins brings to the field. "He's got a lot of explosion, a lot of power. He can certainly deliver a solid blow, and he's long, and he's athletic, he has got good range. So yeah, he's a good player. He brings a lot to our team both in his talents and also in his playing style and his aggressiveness and ability to do whatever we ask him to do. Whether that's playing zone-coverage, playing man-coverage, rush the passer, play on the end of the line, play in the middle of the line. With (Dont'a) Hightower out he's had a lot of communication and play-calling responsibilities and he has not only handled those well, but it hasn't affected any other parts of his game; that added responsibility. Yeah, he has given us a high level of play.

    --New England was successful in the Thursday Night Football Nike Color Rush uniforms that had the home squad in blue jerseys and blue pants. Bill Belichick's team tried a similar, blue-on-blue look early in the 2000s, only to scrap the uniforms after a couple of losses. Asked about getting on track in color scheme more than a decade later, Belichick had a pretty predictable response in his own dry sense of humor.

    "Yeah, I mean I wish that was all there was to it. Just put on a new pair of socks or change uniforms or something like that. It's a lot more to it than that. I mean I can't even tell you how excited I was about the uniforms last night. That's really incredible," Belichick deadpanned.

    --TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) saw his first action of the season against the Texans, though it came in a very limited role. The All-Pro played just 14 of 64 offensive snaps and was utilized almost entirely as a blocker, targeted with just a single throw on the night.

    --QB Jimmy Garoppolo (right shoulder) was inactive against Houston, four days after suffering a reported grade 2 AC sprain against the Dolphins. With Garoppolo out of the picture, rookie third-round pick Jacoby Brissett got his first career start, while WR Julian Edelman served as the backup while also fulfilling his usual duties on offense.

    --LB Dont'a Hightower (knee) was inactive against the Texans, missing his second straight game from the injury suffered early on opening night in Arizona. Hightower was officially listed as questionable for the game after returning to practice on a limited basis earlier in the week, though New England held only walkthroughs on the short week.

    --CB Eric Rowe (ankle) missed his second straight game to the injury suffered a week earlier in practice, just a couple days after joining New England via trade from the Eagles.

    --RB D.J. Foster was a healthy scratch against the Texans

    --G Jonathan Cooper (foot) was inactive for the third straight game to open his Patriots career. The offseason traded addition has been practicing on a limited basis all season due to the injury suffered on the first day of padded training camp practice July 30.

    --LB Elandon Roberts, a rookie sixth-round pick, dressed but did not play against Houston.

    --T LaAdrian Waddle was a healthy scratch against the Texans.

    --TE AJ Derby was a healthy scratch against Houston.

    --G Shaq Mason (hand) started for the second straight week and played all of the offensive snaps for the first time this season as he works back from the summer injury.