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November 1, 2011 @ 1:37 pm
Current rating: 4.00 Stars/1 Votes

Bucs To Be Nearly At Full Strength Against Saints

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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With an important divisional contest Sunday at New Orleans the Buccaneers are hoping to have several keys players back in uniform after missing time with injuries.

Beaten up, bruised and generally battered during the first seven games of the season, the bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay’s medical staff has been working overtime during the past two weeks and it appears to be paying off as several key members of both the offense and defense are set to return to game action this Sunday in New Orleans.

One of those key players that has been sorely missed is running back LeGarrette Blount. The second-year back took has missed two games since taking a shot to the knee in the Buccaneers' 48-3 loss at San Francisco and injuring his MCL.

Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris commented on Blount and what he means to Tampa Bay’s offense.

"LeGarrette brings a lot to the table,” Morris said. “He’s one of those guys that comes in there and really lets us be what we want to be on offense. He gives us the ability to give a guy the ball 20-25 times a game. He opens up our play-action pass. He opens up some of the things we do, gets some more people open downfield like we did last time against the Saints with the Rejus Benn big touchdown to him. That’s where our offense is, that’s where we need to be. We want to develop that kind of a rhythm, again, and to maintain that consistency throughout the second half of our season.”

Morris went on to comment about how the running game can help all of the Buccaneers’ units.

“If we can do those things and get LeGarrette Blount going, and also Lumpkin and all those guys in the backfield, it opens up other things for our receivers,” Morris said. “It opens up things for Mike Williams. It opens up things for Arrelious Benn. It opens up things for Kellen Winslow. And they start to tag-team off each other and we can stop talking about how bad Freeman is playing or how not as good he’s playing as he was last year. He starts to play better, as well, and our offense starts to click and it becomes a total team deal.

While no official announcement from Morris or the Buccaneers has come out saying Blount will definitely play Sunday, it appears to be a solid bet No. 27 will take the field in New Orleans.

Blount is eager to get back in action.

“My recovery has been a little bit faster than we thought,” Blount said. “Everything is going real well. It's looking good for this week. I've been running for the last couple weeks, so the fatigue isn’t going to play a factor in how I perform.”

With Earnest Graham lost for the season with a torn Achilles' tendon, Blount will take on added responsibility.

“I know I'm going to play third down in this game," Blount said. “I know I’m not going to play all of them – but I’m going to play quite a few of them. I have shown that I know the protections and the routes and things and that I can catch the ball. That's going to help us out tremendously. They're going to let me stay in the game a little bit longer and play a lot more snaps so I'm excited.”

Morris knows Blount will need to add third-down back to his resume, at least in spot duty, but said this week Tampa Bay has at least one more option than in the loss to Chicago.

He (Blount) was starting to develop his third-down package before Earnest got injured but certainly it helps us increase some of those roles for him,” Morris said. “It also gives us some opportunities for  other people like Mossis Madu. We have the ability to get him in there as well. We have (Kregg) Lumpkin, too, so we feel pretty good about our running back situation. I know it was dire need during the bye week, about how we didn’t have anyone healthy on the roster. It was great. It was awesome. I had every running back in the nation call me trying to get a job.”

Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who was also injured in the San Francisco game is hoping to see action when Tampa Bay travels to New Orleans on Sunday.

"I'm feeling good. I’m going to go out and practice today,” McCoy said. “With my ankle injury I’ll just be day-to-day. I’m going to go out, be aggressive and we’ll see what happens. I’m a tough guy, I can deal with it. If I get nicked up here and there it doesn’t matter. I’ll get out there at some point.”

Morris also is looking forward to seeing McCoy lined up in the three-technique soon once again.

“He's different. He's out get-off guy,” Morris said. “He's kind of our engine a little bit. Price and him in there are tough to deal with. They create some certain disruption for us that we don’t have with other players. They're different guys. They play hard, they play fast, they play physical.

“Some of the other guys, like Big Frank (Okam), we get a different look. We get a bigger more physical human. With McCoy we get a chance to change the line of scrimmage and change where the ball is handed off and some of the position points from the quarterback. We get a little bit more pass rush. It will be nice to have him back.”

Morris also commented on Tanard Jackson (hamstring), offensive linemen Jeremy Zuttah (knee) and Jeff Faine (biceps).

“I’m feeling good about both of those guys (Jackson and Zuttah),” Morris said. “Got a little extra time this week. Got to see Tanard run around out there a bunch today. Feeling a lot better about where Zuttah is. I don’t know where he is going to be at yet. I’m going to have to see. But we have a little bit of time. Jeff Faine got out there a little bit today. He was able to do some things for us today. So I'm feeling good about getting at least one of those guys back if not both (Zuttah or Faine).”

Another key player who has been hampered by injuries is rookie middle linebacker Mason Foster. The rookie has been slowed by not just one, but both ankles being injured. Foster, like McCoy and Blount, sounds ready to go Sunday.

“I had some time off to relax, get healthy,” Foster said. “So I am ready to go." 

“Pretty much the whole week (I was preparing for the Saints) I didn’t have the opportunity to go home so I stayed here (in Tampa) and hung out, watched film, got treatment and just relaxed. I feel good; definitely this bye helped me out a lot. We have great trainers so I was able to come in everyday and get worked on it. It's a lot better.”

Last modified on Tuesday, 01 November 2011 16:28

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  • avatar

    No mention of the status of Stocker, Stroughter, Bennett, Lorig, and Black - are they back up to speed and ready to go?
  • avatar

    Those guys all practiced today and should be a go. Not sure where Sammie stands yet. I'll talk to him tomorrow. Thanks CB.
  • avatar

    Watching the half time of the N Ill game last night,and Robert Smith mentioned how much N Ill missed Chad Spann, who Smith called " a beast". Mark, how's the kid looking in practice, and do you see the Bucs getting him on the field this year?
  • avatar

    It's tough to tell with Spann, we only get a few minutes of practice viewing during the regular season and it is mostly when they are working special teams. I'll talk to Morris or Olson tomorrow and get an update. But he is just running scout for the most part. Thanks SD
  • avatar

    Top 4 draft needs in no particular order: Speed at RB Speed at WR CB OLB The O-Line is good but they will draft an O-Lineman within the first 5 rounds simply because every team SHOULD every single year. You can never have enough depth there.
  • avatar

    Not sure if we should draft a center in the early rounds next year but I've tired of Faine being hurt year after year because he looks to me like a natural 260 pounder beefed up to 290.
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    Horse, from everything I have found Zane Taylor is a true center. He listed his 2nd position as G to enhance his draft potential. I don't know if he will work out, but here is a NFLDraftScout Snapshot: DS Rating on 9-1-10: #6 C, #172/750 Overall, 6 out of 56 Centers. 2010: First-team all-MWC ... started 12 games at center, missing the New Mexico game with a knee injury ... led the offensive line in plays per game, averaging 59.7 in the nine games that were graded (no grades kept against Air Force, BYU or Boise State) ... nine cuts and nine pancake blocks in 10 games... Academic all-MWC...2009: Second-team All-MWC ... started all 13 games at center, snapping the ball 810 times in regular season play ... led Utah in cuts (33) and finished second in pancake blocks (16) ... graded out at 90% or better three times (Oregon, Colorado State and BYU) ... Academic all-MWC...2008: Honorable mention all-MWC ... started all 13 games at center ... 15 pancake blocks in the regular season ... 35 knockdowns ... 22 cuts ... Academic all-MWC ... made the Dean's List (3.85 GPA) and the Athletic Director's Honor Roll...2007: Played in eight games, mostly on special teams ... backed up at right guard and participated in 20 offensive plays ...2006: Redshirt ... won the team's Future Award for Offense ... made the Athletic Director's Honor Roll.
  • avatar

    Macabee, thank you for the information. I am relived that he is a real Center as I am pretty sure that we will need him shortly.
  • avatar

    Terrific to get so many of our players back just at a critical time. We have enough talent now that in the draft next year we should be able to start putting some draft picks together to move up and get a very dominating player in the first round. I remember well when we wanted to get Calvin Johnson in the draft but were not able to pull it off at the time. There are times when it really pays off to move up in the draft. The last time I looked we had added a Guard/Center to our practice squad that was not with us in the preseason. If he is still there he probably does not know our offense yet but that tells me that DOM was working to get a center ready in case he was needed. This team is on the right track. The problem is that as you look around the NFL there are more stronger teams around this year: the 49ers, Buffalo, Cincy, Raiders, and even Kansas City is on a tear recently. With the addition of a Heisman QB even Charlotte is getting competitive now just in time for us to have to play them twice. Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    Horse, we do have a center on the PS. His name is Zane Taylor.
  • avatar

    macabee, it's another guard/center deal; I still don't get the Center deal. Next to the QB, I believe the Center is critical.
  • avatar

    So if Faine or Zuttah can't go, Larsen is the Center? Once again, where is the real Center back up? I can't understand why we did not at least get a Center on the Practice Squad. Did I miss something here. It sounds like to me that Faine is "Questionable" and Zuttah is "Probable". Hmm? I'm concerned that Blount is "Probable"? I know he wants to play, but can he takes the hard hits and push as hard as he has in the past on that damaged knee so soon? Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    I hope getting some guys back healthy helps this team Sunday. That bears game just took the wind out of my sails, as far as being excited about this season. I was pumped up as the year begain. But now I feel we are headed for another season with no playoffs and another draft pick around 20 where we can't get the dominate player to add. No great free agents, no top ten draft pick, nothing to trade equals no playoffs in 2012 either.
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