Bucs RB LeGarrette Blount was injured in the second quarter of Sunday's 16-10 win over the Carolina Panthers. Since the game ended Sunday night, there have been conflicting stories on the nature of Blount's injury. Head coach Greg Schiano did little to clear up the mystery surrounding Blount's health on Monday.
The mystery circumstances surrounding LeGarrette Blount’s injury on Sunday continued Monday at One Buc Place when the third-year running back was unavailable during the open locker room session. Head coach Greg Schiano was also vague when asked about Blount during his Monday afternoon press conference, creating more confusion.
“LeGarrette could have gone back in the game, so let’s make that clear,” Schiano said. “I don’t know if we’re all certain on what’s ailing LeGarrette. He came out of the game and we thought it was his leg. Now we’re not sure. We’re just keeping an eye on him to make sure it’s nothing more serious. I think he’s okay, but I’ll let you know Wednesday. [Tuesday] they’re off but he’ll be around and we’ll let you know if there’s any more to it."
Obviously, Blount was shaken up in the Panthers game and was attended to by team trainers after a helmet-to-helmet collision with Panthers defensive tackle Dwan Edwards in the second quarter. Blount initially bounced up, then appeared wobbly before falling down and favoring the inside of his right leg.
After spending a few minutes on the turf, Blount was helped up and made his way to the sideline. If Blount had some sort of concussion type injury – as some have suggested – why would he clutch his leg? Perhaps it was a stinger that hit the nerve all the way down his leg led him to grasp his lower extremity. Blount never returned to the game.
In the fourth quarter, as the Bucs were trying to preserve their lead, it was third-string runner D.J. Ware who came in and spelled Doug Martin. Most assumed Blount had re-injured his groin that was hurt during the second preseason game against the Titans.
As the media was under the stadium following the game and the players were leaving the field, Blount hurriedly made his way to the Buccaneers locker room, and before the media was even allowed in for interviews, Blount showered, dressed and raced out of the stadium towards the player parking lot – running – not walking.
Sources have told PewterReport.com that Blount doesn’t have a health issue. Yet on Monday, Schiano alluded to some type of injury, then in the same quote, made it clear Blount could have gone back in the game. PewterReport.com was also told Sunday following the game that Blount was "fine."
A member of the agency that represents Blount didn't want to comment when reached via telephone on Monday night, asking that PewterReport.com call back on Tuesday. Repeated calls Tuesday have were not returned.
NFL teams are notorious for withholding injury information, even the previous Tampa Bay regime of Raheem Morris. Defensive tackle Roy Miller – who had a sub-par season in 2011, drawing scrutiny and criticism from the media and fans – finally revealed he played part of last season with a herniated disc in his back. At no point last season did the Buccaneers reveal the significance of Miller’s injury. Perhaps NFL teams feel like if they are completely forthcoming with injury specifics, opponents would target those players and take advantage of the weakness.
In the case of this new coaching staff, the vagueness – and what some would call deception about injuries – has been prominent. When wide receiver Arrelious Benn and cornerback E.J. Biggers were hurt in training camp no one from the organization would get into the specifics of the type of injuries. Until Biggers was seen in a boot, and Benn in a knee brace, the media could finally get a take on what was actually wrong with the players.
Last week, PewterReport.com was denied access to interview Biggers even though he was present during the open locker room period. A Bucs public relations member alluded to the reasoning being Biggers has yet to practice since his injury.
Earlier in training camp, tight end Luke Stocker was injured at some point and missed several days of camp. The Buccaneers were very non-specific when asked about the status of Stocker’s health during the days Stocker was held out of practice.
After the Titans preseason game Schiano did open up just a bit about Stocker.
“He wasn’t feeling well,” Schiano said. “We sent him to the doctors and he’s okay. Whether that’s concussion or whatever it was, I don’t know why that was said.
“Again, I stay away from that 'C' word unless the doctor tells me that’s what it is. It is a physical game. We hit into each other. If I guy doesn’t feel well, sometimes it is that, sometimes it isn’t that. We take it very, very seriously. So if a guy has any kind of he doesn’t feel well, we’re going to err on the side of caution. As an organization, we’re committed to that. They are people first. You only got one of those (gestures to brain). We’re going to be extra careful. And [trainer] Todd [Toriscelli] and the doctors, they know how I feel.”
Certainly in today’s NFL the term “concussion” word is a hot-button issue and teams are trying to follow the league-mandated concussion treatment plan. But fans – and the media – deserve more transparency when injuries take place. Even the players deserve it, as the secrecy and withholding of factual information hurts the perception of the player in their own town and even nationally. The cat-and-mouse game about injuries with opponents and the media has been going on for years and there is most likely no end in sight.
NFL teams – and the Buccaneers, in particular – should consider how silly it appears when they say they don't know what is wrong with a player. You can be assured the coaching staff and front office are clued in on any injury – however small or significant if might be – immediately. To suggest 24 hours after an injury occurs that the team simply doesn't know isn't being honest with the media or Buccaneers fans.
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