Buccaneers RB Kareem Huggins is out for the season after tearing an ACL in his right knee. Huggins will be replaced by either LeGarrette Blount or Kregg Lumpkin.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Kareem Huggins is out for the season after tearing an ACL in his right knee against the New Orleans Saints. Bucs head coach Raheem Morris revealed Huggins injury on Monday.
“Unfortunately now we’ve lost Huggy for the year,” said Morris. “The knee issue. He’ll be down, now we have to go back to the lab.”
Huggins was injured after making a seven-yard catch on third down and was hit low by Saints linebacker Marvin Mitchell. The reception gave Tampa Bay a first down. In the game Huggins had three carries for seven yards. Huggins was the Bucs leading running back in the preseason, and unseated veteran Derrick Ward as the backup to starter Carnell ‘Cadillac’ Williams.
The injury came at a bad time as Tampa Bay had planned on featuring Huggins and getting him more involved in the offense against the Saints. When asked if the problems with the running game can’t be answered until the team tries a new running back, Morris said they were in the process of doing that when Huggins went down.
“You got to certainly go out there and look into it. You got to get some guys some carries. We had the ability going out there yesterday to have Huggy going out there yesterday and was a feature back for five plays until disaster struck,” said Morris. “So you still don’t have that answer. We got to out there and get it from somebody else unfortunately.”
For the season Huggins totaled four carries for 11 yards (2.8 average) with the one reception for seven yards. In the preseason Huggins averaged 5.4 yards per carry with a total of 134 yards on 25 carries. He also caught three passes for 28 yards. Replacing Huggins as the primary backup will be either LeGarrette Blount or Kregg Lumpkin. The later has yet to log a carry for Tampa Bay, while Blount has ran for 30 yards on 10 carries with a touchdown.
“We are going to take a real hard look at both Lumpkin and Blount, those are the only two other guys that we have at this point,” said offensive coordinator Greg Olson. “We’ll look at Lumpkin and Blount this week, and they both got to us late. They are both still learning the position, and all that goes along with it, the protection as well as the run game, but we’ll look get a hard look at both of those guys this week. There’s a chance we’ll dual role Lumpkin as a fullback slash tailback depending on Earnest’ status throughout the week.”
Tampa Bay acquired both Blount and Lumpkin after final preseason cuts. Green Bay released Lumpkin and Tennessee released Blount. Morris was asked on Monday why Blount was inactive against New Orleans.
“The third back is usually a luxury,” Morris said. “After Kareem got hurt you can certainly second guess yourself and say, ‘ I wish I had that luxury right now.’ We went into it thinking that Mike Williams was gimpy all week from practice so we put up the extra wide out and went with the two backs, then bang, Earnest Graham gets a mild hammy [injury]. Kareem Huggins goes out for the season, and now you are back to giving Cadillac too many carries, which is what you didn’t want to get into in the first place.”
Olson and Morris said the team could give Graham more carries in order to spell Williams and replace Huggins. The 6-foot, 247-pound Blount ran for 27 yards on six carries with a touchdown in his first game action for Tampa Bay during the Bucs’ Week 3 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The 23-year old Blount had four carries for three yards in the next game at Cincinnati.
The Buccaneers have the 27th ranked rushing offense in the NFL after producing only 42 yards against New Orleans. Williams has 190 yards on 76 carries for an average of 2.5 yards per carry with zero touchdowns in 2010.
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