In part two of our interview with Erik Lorig, the Bucs' second-year fullback discusses working out with his teammates this offseason, blocking for LeGarrette Blount, what he took away from veteran Earnest Graham, and his love for special teams.
While mastering his new NFL position and getting a masters degree from Stanford, Buccaneers fullback Erik Lorig is keeping his goals for the 2011 season very simple. Lorig is keeping things basic with his primary goal to be part of the Buccaneers in 2011.
“My goal every year certainly is to make the squad and be a major contributor on special teams, a major contributor on the offense, and really do anything that I’m asked to do,” said Lorig. “I don’t know what my role will be next year, but I developed a role this year. Every year it is first and foremost to make the team and really from there contribute as much as possible.”
Lorig entered the NFL as a defensive end that had played tight end early in his career at Stanford. Early into the regular season Lorig switched to the other side of the ball to play fullback, H-back, and tight end. Lorig was the only player on the Tampa Bay roster, and the only Bucs player in years, to know both the offensive and defensive playbooks by mid-season. While he got a late start, the Stanford graduate picked up his new position quickly.
Lorig made his NFL debut in Cincinnati on October 10 and started his first game against the Carolina Panthers on November 14. Lorig was mostly a core special teams player when he saw game action. After an injury to starting fullback Earnest Graham against Seattle, Lorig finished the game at fullback with running back LeGarrette Blount running for a season high of 164 yards on 18 carries with one touchdown.
Blount ran for 91 yards on 19 carries with one touchdown in Lorig’s first start against Carolina. With Graham on injured reserve at the end of the season, the Bucs started Lorig in Week 17 against New Orleans and he caught his first NFL pass for a gain of 10 yards. Blount ran for 66 yards on 19 carries. Lorig enjoyed blocking for Blount and is eager to get back to doing it next season.
“I love blocking for LeGarrette; and when I got to block for Cadillac, I had a blast doing it,” said Lorig. “I really enjoyed it during the games. Another area of improvement I’m focused on is fitting where the offensive linemen are. Our offensive line did so well blocking in the games for LeGarrette. It is a team effort between the fullback and the offensive line. There are just different ways a defense unfolds to the eyes of the offensive line and the fullback. You have to work with each other. That is an area that takes experience and not necessarily talent or anything else – just experience. I need to get more experience with that to help improve.”
Lorig is studying fullbacks on his own and did not get a big amount of homework from his position coach Steve Logan before the offseason started and the lockout commenced. However, the second-year pro has Logan’s coaching points in mind as he works during the offseason.
“I haven’t talked to the coaches. I haven’t been around Tampa in a while,” said Lorig. “From what Coach Logan coached me on through the season, I developed a game plan myself and how I have to improve. I’m working on what I was coached on during the season.”
Another coach that Lorig figures to work closely with is special teams coordinator Dwayne Stukes. After long-time special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia left Tampa Bay for the San Diego Chargers, Stukes was promoted to lead the Bucs special teams, and Lorig is eager to get back to work with Stukes.
“I love special teams. Coach Stukes helped out in his role last year. I know how he is as a coach and I’m really excited to work with him,” said Lorig. “I loved playing special teams. I had such a blast doing it. That is where I got my first opportunity and I don’t ever want to not be on special teams. I had a blast running down on kickoffs, covering punts, and punt returns. I don’t see myself being a professional without doing special teams my whole career.”
Making the team and contributing on special teams was always one of the goals of one of Lorig’s mentors on the Bucs roster. Starting fullback Earnest Graham survived the early years in his NFL career after going undrafted by making the team as a backup and being a core special teams player. Lorig thinks very highly of the veteran Graham.
“E.G. is a model for me – no question,” said Lorig. “E.G. is a great football player. He does everything, number one. Number two, he does everything really well. He helped me out so much and I really look to model myself after him and after all the stuff he does.”
While in California, Lorig plans on working out with some teammates. Left tackle Donald Penn, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, and defensive tackle Brian Price among others are working out in California this offseason. Both McCoy and Price are working their way back from season ending injuries.
“I’ve talked to Penn a little bit. I’m here in Northern California for another week and then I’m going back to Southern California,” said Lorig. “I’m going to be training at a place with some guys down there in preparation to come back to Tampa. I’ll probably link up with those guys later. I haven’t talked to them yet but I’ll send them some texts.”
Buccaneers starting quarterback Josh Freeman is planning on getting his teammates together to work out in the event that the team doesn’t have OTAs (organized team activities) due to the NFL lockout. While that may happen, Lorig has not heard about the team organized practices up to this point.
“I haven’t gotten any word. I’m just waiting for the whole situation to be resolved. I’m definitely ready to play,” said Lorig. “I haven’t heard any word or any details about it or anything like that.”
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