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November 23, 2009 @ 11:00 am
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Bucs Want Graham More Involved

Written by Charlie
Charlie Campbell


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A day after losing 38-7 to the New Orleans Saints, Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris addressed a number of topics. He answered questions on the usage of RB Earnest Graham, the status of RT Jeremy Trueblood, and the Bucs last ranked run defense.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris spoke with the media the day after the Bucs 38-7 loss to the New Orleans Saints. Morris talked about a number of topics, and one of the main ones was the Buccaneers running game.

After running for 119 yards on 23 carries (5.2 average) the Buccaneers are ranked 23rd in the NFL. The Bucs rushing attack benefitted greatly from quarterback Josh Freeman. He picked up 30 yards on two carries on two quarterback scrambles. Backup fullback Chris Pressley saw his first game action as a Buccaneer against the Saints, and was in the game for a limited number of snaps.

Tampa Bay's leading rusher against New Orleans was starting running back Carnell ‘Cadillac' Williams. He ran for 32 yards on 11 carries (2.9 average). Starting fullback Earnest Graham ran for 31 yards on three carries (10.3 average), and Morris was asked why Graham did not receive more carries in his postgame press conference.

"Earnest has the ability to get in there and play tailback for us in our one back sets right now and he can possibly go in there if we would have [Chris] Pressley," Morris said. "Pressley's been on our team for probably two weeks, doesn't know the whole package. We have to keep Earnest at fullback to get him acclimated with everything he's going to do. When you get a hot back like that, you would like to be able to stick with them and go with a two back run especially if one of them is starting to roll but you're not able to right now. We don't have the ability to do that. No fault to Pressley, I'm not knocking Pressley, but he's only been here two weeks. He's only been in your system for a limited amount of time. You're going to play the New Orleans Saints who are 9-0, you have to get him a package, you guide him for that package.  You want to be able to pound it. You want to open the game with that type of mentality and be able to go out there and get a little bit out of it. We just weren't able to maintain it today to keep it going"

Graham became the starting fullback when B.J. Askew went on injured reserve with a neck/back injury that he suffered in a car accident that the team deemed a ‘fender-bender.' Morris was questioned whether Pressley would see more snaps.

"We'd like to, he provides a different running game. He provides a different element," said Morris. "We got to get him acclimated with all the packages and doing everything as far as protection, and having him out there for all the regular runs, all the lead runs, all the different formations we have. We got the three-headed monster going a little bit with a run from Cadillac here, a run from Ward there, and a run from Graham here. You see it at the beginning of the game with a 95-yard drive to score a touchdown, but you can't make a living doing that against the Saints. That's what we were trying to do yesterday, and that's tough."

In the first week of the season against Dallas, Graham gave his carries to Williams because Williams was playing well. In that game Williams ran for 97 yards on 13 carries. Morris said that the other unselfish running backs would do the same thing for Graham if that time arose. Morris was asked on Monday if Williams or backup Derrick Ward tried to give their carries to Graham against the Saints.

"No. The only problem with yesterday is Earnest is the starting fullback, so he got some one back runs and that is why he was in those series," Morris said. "In a two-back set the fullback was Earnest, unless it was the small package we had for Pressley yesterday. That wasn't much. It wasn't like they could divert to him. Cadillac and Ward would have if they had the opportunity to because that room is a really good room."

Ward ran for 26 yards on seven carries (3.7 average) against New Orleans. In 2009 Graham has 56 yards on 11 carries with average of 5.1 yards per carry. Ward is averaging 3.7 yards per carry with a total of 243 yards on 66 carries. Morris was asked if Graham is running the ball better than Ward.

"Well you got to say yesterday he ran the ball better than Derrick Ward," said Morris. "[Graham] got the ball a couple of times, made some dynamic runs, and dynamic cuts. The problem is he's our starting fullback. He's been out there playing fullback for Cadillac and Derrick Ward. [Graham] is the most unselfish player on our football team. He's got to be one of them at least in the top five. We'd like to get him the ball. We threw a couple of balls to him in the flat. He's a weapon too as well."

After the Saints gashed the Bucs for 183 yards rushing, Tampa Bay is now ranked last in the NFL in run defense. The Buccaneers are allowing 168.9 yards per game on the ground. Tampa Bay is the 26th ranked defense in the NFL. Against the Bucs, New Orleans running back Pierre Thomas had 92 yards on 11 carries. Backup Mike Bell had 75 yards on 13 carries with two touchdowns.

"Yesterday early in the game we did a nice job of stopping the run," Morris said. "We made some solid plays we got in some third downs, and got off the field. ... When they got the ball in the third and fourth quarter they were able to run downhill at us. They took advantage of some open gaps sometimes, a guy got cutoff, a guy misses a tackle here, and really they won a game by attrition. We really had it stopped pretty good, at halftime they didn't really have a good rushing total. In the second half they decided to run, and got in a run bunch and you knew it was coming. We can't wear down."

At halftime the Saints had 36 yards on nine carries (4.0 average).


In the second half of the game starting right tackle Jeremy Trueblood went out of the game with a knee injury. Trueblood walked off the field, but did not return. Morris was asked about Trueblood's condition on Monday.

"Yeah I have to get with my doctor. Any time a player goes down you have concerns about it," Morris said. "I'll give you more information later."


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