Schiano says Blount won't get touches unless he protects the football while calling Richardson 'a special talent'
Running back LeGarrette Blount has a 'tons of ability,' according to Bucs coach Greg Schiano. But his inability to protect the football could force the team to look elsewhere for ball carriers.
Blount fumbled five times last season, losing three.
"I think LeGarrette has tons of ability,'' Schiano said Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings. "No one who touches the football will get touches if they don't protect the football. That is one of our core covenants. The ball. It's so important, they named the game after it. So, we make a big deal about that thing.''
Schiano said repeatedly that he wants the Bucs to run the football and use play action passes to take shots downfield. He credited running back Ray Rice with spearheading the turnaround at Rutgers and described the Ravens running back as a 'bell cow.'
The Bucs, who own the No. 5 overall pick, may have an opportunity to draft Alabama running back Trent Richardson, whom Schiano described as 'a special talent.'
By comparison, one of Richardson's strengths is ball security. Richardson lost only one fumble in 614 career touches. In fact, that turnover came in the sixth game of his freshman season, which means he went 550 touches without a fumble.
"I've studied a lot of tape on him, he's a very talented guy,'' Schiano said of Richardson. "I met him briefly, I look forward to spending more quality time with him here before the draft. You can't argue with production. One of the things I think you really have to look at, it doesn't guarantee anything, but when you're looking at that running back making the jump from high school to college or college to the National Football League, one of the real barometers is production. Was he able to be consistently productive and Trent has done it in what's arguably the toughest league in college football. So he's a special talent.''
Schiano said he has had running backs by committee but clearly thrived at Rutgers under a feature back system with players such as Rice. Blount has been one dimensional in his career with the Bucs and is rarely used in the passing game. In two seasons, he has 20 receptions for 162 yards and no touchdowns.
"We've done it both ways,'' Schiano said. "We've turned around our program at Rutgers on the shoulders of Ray Rice. He was a bell cow guy, now. I don't know what his average per carries were but he certainly never walked off the field feeling like he hadn't had enough touches, I can promise you that.
"So I do believe if you have the right one, you just feed him. And great backs want the ball. Ray used to come to me, I would check with Ray continuously. "How are you feeling, big guy?' "Keep giving me the ball. Keep giving me the ball.' That's all he wanted. "Give me the ball, give me the ball.'
"When you have those types of backs, I've been around some of them -- Ki-Jana Carter was like that at Penn St. -- at Miami we had a slew of them. They all want touches to get into a groove. But you've got to have that guy. I always talk about touches during a football game. It's kind of like a pizza and you earn your slice of the pie. so the better the player you are, the more productive you are, we're going to find ways to get you touches. And you earn them. They're not handed out. You earn them.''
And if Blount wants touches, he's going to have to start holding onto the football.