Bucs draft pick Allen Bradford playing defense and offense
The Bucs have been attempting to add some punch in their running game, and they feel they know just how to do it: With big backs punshing defenders.
"When you have to tackle (Carolina's) Jonathan Stewart every week and you have (New Orleans') Mark Ingram coming into our division," Bucs coach Raheem Morris said, "when you have to tackle all those big guys and you watch (LeGarrette) Blount run for 1,000 yards being a bigger guy, a structurally-fit guy – it’s a big-man’s league."
To that end, the Bucs in last month's draft, according to general manager Mark Dominik, went "big-back hunting." That effort produced USC running back Allen Bradford in the sixth round. He is a prospect that has not only the size to fit the Bucs' backfield plans, but also the demeanor. While there's nothing wrong with running away from a defense, Bradford said, there's something to be said for running through one.
"I think that can bring fear to a defense," said Bradford, 5-11 and 242 pounds. "My old coach always told me, in the first and second quarters, let the defense feel you. Then, in the third and fourth quarter,
you're going to start seeing them wear down."
It's not a difficult concept for Bradford to grasp. As an high school All-American safety in San Bernadino, Calif., he regularly handed out helmet-rattling blows to ball carriers. He was moved by coaches to offense early in his career at USC, but he hasn't lost his defensive disposition.
"I was one of the top defensive players in the country coming out of high school," Bradford said. "You have to be mentally tough to play defense. I try to punish people, but on offense."
Though Bradford said he has no clue what his role will be with Tampa Bay this fall -- he's eager to play a significant role on special teams, one of his strengths -- he would like nothing more than to be among the backs who spell Blount, himself a battering ram at 250 pounds.
"He's going to wear them down," Bradford said of Blount. Bradford saw Blount up close when Blount played for Pac-10 rival Oregon, so the rookie has a healthy respect for Blount's abilities.
For now, Bradford will start with the basics. He's getting together with fellow Californian Rudy Carpenter, the Bucs' No. 3 quarterback, and the two will begin working out together this week in Westlake, Calif. Bradford's publicist, Benjamin Weiss, connected the two, and Carpenter was eager to lend a hand. He can share with Bradford insight on the playbook that would give the rookie a head start whenever the NFL's lockout ends and workouts resume. That will be key since offseason workouts and training camp could be abbreviated, leaving rookies at a disadvantage because they are new to team's systems.
But it seems clear the one thing coaches won't need to teach Bradford is the sort of attitude they're looking for in their backfield. He's already got that down pat.