The rash of storms that alarmed the area over the weekend didn’t have as much to do with the weather as the Patriots’ revamped kick-return unit.

With Leon Washington now out of the picture the Pats can roll out the thunder with a pounding LeGarrette Blount and strike lightning with the electric quickness of Josh Boyce. If the Patriots have a wrinkle in mind that would improve upon last year’s unit it would figure to come from Boyce or Blount.

Boyce led the Pats in the preseason with three returns for 73 yards and Blount added one return for 27 yards. On the surface Blount’s reps seemed circumstantial perhaps with the intent of giving him an opportunity to make the team or even preventing another player from being downed by an injury. But Blount has continued to take on the role at practice.

It’s a bit different for the bulldozer who prefers to run through tacklers rather than around them
“It’s kind of a finesse thing. You’re not trying to run into anybody” Blount said. “It’s a little bit different than running back but as far as making reads and stuff it’s almost the same. There’s just a lot going on at once. I’m not really used to it but from doing it in that preseason game and doing it so forth it’s getting to become kind of second nature to me. Now I know what I’m doing.”

The 250-pounder could actually make history if he turns this into a regular role. Only two players listed at least 250 pounds have ever returned at least six career kickoffs (71 players have returned at least two but the vast majority are linemen who sat on a squib kick) and no 250-pounder has ever taken a kickoff back for a touchdown.

Maybe he can reinvent the game.

“Change it up” Blount said. “I don’t know many people that have had a kickoff returner that’s my size. It’s a pretty good thing I think.”

Boyce is more the prototype but he only returned three kicks for 93 yards in his career at TCU so he’s new at it too. The speedster said the toughest adjustment has been combatting what may be his best asset. The coverage team gets on top of the returner right away so his decisions have to be crisp and efficient. That’s much different from the defensive players who are mostly running with him.