The Bucs fall to division rivals New Orleans in the Superdome - 11/6/2011
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday October 16.
Ntohing beats a win in on national TV in front of a sold out crowd!
By Tom Krasniqi
It was extremely hot during Friday’s training camp practice for the Buccaneers. The only thing hotter than that so far in camp is the battle at running back. LeGarrette Blount is being challenged by rookie Doug Martin, one of the team’s first-round picks. Blount and Martin are splitting the reps with the first team but it appears Martin’s versatility gives him a leg up in the early going.
Blount spoke to reporters after Friday’s practice and talked about the fierce competition in the backfield. “We have 7 running backs [in camp] and everybody wants to start…..we come out here and whenever you get the opportunity to come up, you have to do everything perfectly so you have no red marks on your paper”, says Blount. There were plenty of red marks on Blount’s paper last season. After a 1,000-yard rushing season during his rookie campaign, Blount rushed for just 781 yards last season. Ball security has also been a concern. Head coach Greg Schiano has made it clear that fumbling will not be tolerated. Through the first two years of his NFL career, Blount fumbled 9 times and lost 6 fumbles. His pass catching skills have also been called into question at times. Blount had just 15 receptions last season and 20 career catches. When I asked him about that, Blount scoffed at that notion that he’s not a good pass catcher out of the backfield. “I can catch the ball, that’s point blank. There’s no question there”, Blount said emphatically.
Blount was criticized in some circles for not being in the best of shape last season. To his credit, Blount reported to camp in good physical shape. Schiano praised Blount for his leaner physique and says he’s been happy with Blount so far in camp. Blount is listed at 247 pounds and says he’s still learning the new offense being installed by new offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan. Learning the pass protection schemes is something he’s also working on and that’s imperative if Blount wants to see action on certain passing downs this season.
Schiano prefers a split of the workload between Martin and Blount but he has mentioned that he isn’t afraid to ride the hot hand during games. Remember this about Schiano: Back when he was at Rutgers, he had a 2,000-yard back named Ray Rice and Martin has been compared favorably to Rice in size and ability. Blount says he’s content with sharing the load with Martin for the time being. However, Blount wants the ball 20 times per game. “Oh yeah, most definitely”, he says about wanting to be the main ball carrier. After a week in camp, it looks like Martin has the lead but we’ll see if that translates to game action. The first preseason game is next Friday in Miami.
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