Bucs fans have been clamoring for a significant LeGarrette Blount sighting on offense with the recent struggles to run the football. And while head coach Greg Schiano wouldn't spell it out specifically, he did acknowledge that Blount's role should start to increase.
When the Buccaneers moved back into the first round last April to select Boise State’s Doug Martin with the No. 31 overall pick, many envisioned a one-two punch at running back with he and LeGarrette Blount – reminiscent of the Warrick Dunn and Mike Alstott days in the 1990s.
So far, the one-two punch has been a one-sided affair, with a heavy emphasis on the "one," which is Martin, the team's starting running back. But things are beginning to point towards the “two” – Blount – becoming part of what fans, and even the coaching staff, hoped would happen with addition of Martin last April.
“Well, I think [with] LeGarrette we need to get him more involved, but I am not thinking about making any changes the way we are doing [things],” head coach Greg Schiano said. “Just give him a little more action.
“There was the whole thing with the injury [after Week 1] and then we were not sure what it was and it kind of threw things into flux a little bit. I think he is practicing very well now and he is ready to go. So I think we will have a good one-two punch like we envisioned early on. That is what my hope is.”
Blount talked with the media on Wednesday, and said he is trying to all the right things, while being patient.
“Stay prepared,” Blount said. “I’m going to practice and every rep they give me, I do it to the fullest and prepare and practice as hard as I can so I can get more of those opportunities.
“It is pretty tough. But that goes for anybody that has been in the position I was in once (as a starter) in the NFL. But it comes along with being a good teammate, being patient and waiting your turn. A lot of guys' numbers have been called lately with injuries and all. I am just waiting my turn. Hopefully I will get more carries and more opportunities.”
Schiano acknowledged the struggles of the running game thus far (averaging just 3.4 yards per carry) but thinks Martin has done as good of job as he can, considering the circumstances.
“I think he is running hard,” Schiano said. “I think he is running well. I don’t think we have done as good a job blocking as I thought we would be able to. But then you lose Davin [Joseph] and then that throws into a little state of flux. We are starting a new guy at tackle (Demar Dotson) so I think we are going to clearly get better as we move forward. These guys (the Washington Redskins) are going to crowd the box. There is going to be upstream now trying to run the football. We are going to have to really be perfect to be able to gain yardage running the ball.”
Blount, who has only rushed seven times for 27 yards (3.9 avg.) this year, including four carries for 19 yards (4.75 avg.) at Dallas on Sunday, was quick to compliment his competition for the starting role.
“Doug is a good running back and will continue to be a good running back,” Blount said of Martin, who is leading all rookies with 214 yards and one touchdown on 63 carries (3.4 avg.). “He is a young guy. I think he has a lot more in store than what people think and what we have seen lately.
"As far as me, I feel like I can still play and have an impact on the game, it just depends on when and what game.”
Blount went onto explain part of the problems with the lack of success in the running game.
“We go in there and study game film (and) it is just little things here and there,” Blount said. “Coach preaches (it is) all 11 guys on the field doing their job, and we will have a lot more big plays and a lot more opportunity to make big plays. We have to buy into that and contribute to that.”
Schiano was non-committal on exact percentages of carries between Martin and Blount, but said it can vary from week to week.
“Again, I hate to (give the percentage for a one-two combo) I am not sure I have that,” Schiano said. “It is more of the perfect feel type thing. When it feels good and he gets in there and it feels right and you make the right decision. He starts running people over and hurdling them and the rest of the stuff and then you bring Doug back and he is fresh again. That’s the perfect world.
“Is there a percentage? One week it can be 50-50 and the next week it could be 80-20. Whatever fits the situation is perfect. I really try to not do that, but you got to be careful because when you go totally by feel you can look up and it’s the fourth quarter and he has one carry so it is a delicate balance no doubt.”
Whatever the percentage ends of being, Blount just wants an opportunity.
“I am excited about it and hope that is what we get to,” Blount said. “I want to play ball too. Hopefully we get to it.”
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