Blount will return as an every down back this week vs. Saints
LeGarrette Blount is back. Back as the Bucs starting tailback. Back as the third down back. Back as the every down back he hoped to be when the season started.
After missing two games with a left knee sprain, Blount will return to the lineup Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. More importantly, with Earnest Graham lost for the season with a torn right Achilles, Blount also will remain on the field on most third down situations.
"Oh yeah, I know I'm going to play third downs in this game,'' Blount said. "I'm probably not going to play all of them, but I know I'm going to play quite a few of them. I've shown that I know the protections and I know the routes and everything and I can catch the ball, so that's going to help us out tremendously. It's going to let me stay in the game a little bit longer and play a lot more snaps, so I'm excited.''
When Blount needs a break, either Kregg Lumpkin or Mosis Madu will spell him on third down. But Blount learned he would have more of a role in the offense during the walk-through Tuesday morning.
As for his knee injury, reportedly an MCL sprain, Blount said his recovery was faster than anticipated.
"I feel good. Everything is back in store, everything is where it needs to be,'' Blount said. "My recovery was a little bit faster than what we thought, so everything is going real well. It's looking good for this week.
"I've been running for the last couple weeks. The fatigue is not going to play a factor in how I perform.''
Nobody will benefit more from the return of Blount and the Bucs running game more than quarterback Josh Freeman, who threw four interceptions in a 24-18 loss to the Chicago Bears in London.
"He's huge,'' Freeman said of Blount. "The quarterbacks two best friends are first, the defense and then second, a great running game. Having LeGarrette in there, with the way our o-line is blocking, it's huge.''
Freeman said he's proud of how much Blount has improved in the third down role in terms of picking up blitzes, running routes and catching the football.'
"I think LeGarrette is going to get his shot,'' Freeman said. "We've been talking about it from the preseason moving on into the season, it's a thing that's always kind of been a monkey on LeGarrette's back. He can do it. We were out there in the walk-through throwing it around and when we got into the pass and the blitzes, he's out there calling the protections and knowing where he's going. It's huge. Huge to see the strides that guy has made.''