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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs looking at options other than Blount in short-yardage



LeGarrette Blount has transformed the Bucs' running game, rushing for 103 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons and averaging 4.5 yards per carry this season.

But coaches are puzzled by his periodic inability to pick up key yards in short-yardage situations. It's a failure that stems not from his ability to power through defenders but by his indecision at the line of scrimmage where Blount seemingly is waiting for holes to develop. In short yardage, Blount's coaches are looking for him to just power through a crease and take what he can get.

Blount failed to do that in a key third-and-1 situation in the third quarter on Sunday, and now the Bucs are thinking about involving Earnest Graham in short yardage scenarios.

"We may have to look into a different direction in those situations, but while we're still working with (Blount) at the same time," coach Raheem Morris said. "But those are the things that are ever-changing and those are the things that coaches have to do. But I certainly don’t regret giving him the opportunity to go get a third-and-1 being who he is and what we think he can be if we give him an opportunity to do it."

Coaches are still, to some extent, learning about Blount's strengths and weaknesses because he only joined the team in Week 1.

"We hope to get LeGarrette Blount out there on third and 1 and he can be the big battering ram that you’d like him to be, a big 250-pound guy who creates a hole," Morris said. "But unfortunately, that might not be him. The only way you find those things out is if you go out there and give him experience and you go out there and try to do it. The only thing you can do as a coach is teach him what you want. But the thing he does is he's a patient runner. Sometimes he makes up things and sometimes he goes for 17 (yards). But on third-and-1, sometimes it frustrates you because you just want him to hit it downfield and get the 2, 3 (yards) that they give you."

That's where Graham comes in. The coaching staff turned its attention to him in this morning's coaches' meeting and brought him up as a possible solution in short yardage.

"We certainly have a lot of faith in Earnest Graham and what he can do for us, and he's been that (short-yardage) guy in the past," offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. "Part of it is the fullback situation and what we're going to do there. But we'll definitely look at that situation because we recognize that as well."

Blount leads the Bucs in rushing with 599 yards despite starting just three games. His status as the No. 1 running back is not in jeopardy whatsoever.

[Last modified: Monday, December 6, 2010 12:57pm]


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