TAMPA — When the Bucs went with RB LeGarrette Blount over Doug Martin in Sunday's much-debated goal-line series that resulted in no points, it was a decision that was made long ago.
Based on preseason and training camp performances, the staff designated Blount as the short-yardage back, coach Greg Schiano said Monday.
"You go back to the preseason and the Miami game when we pounded it away, then you go back to the Washington game (Sept. 30), and he pounds it in there and puts it in the end zone," Schiano said. "After the preseason, we kind of felt that way, and then we kept going with it."
In the wake of Blount's failure to reach the end zone on three straight tries against the Saints (QB Josh Freeman lost yardage on a fourth-down rollout), the Bucs will re-evaluate Blount's role in such situations, Schiano said.
"All these decisions, whether it's who's playing receiver, or running back, kick returner, front line — doesn't matter — everything is constantly being evaluated," he said. "And as you have a larger body of results to make decisions off, you hope that we make the best decisions with more information. And that's what we'll do."
Schiano didn't heap all the blame on Blount. He said on one unspecified play a schematic issue led to the play being stuffed. He also said the offensive line's push partly might have been an issue.
Asked whether Blount's struggles as a short-yardage back in previous seasons were taken into consideration, Schiano said, "I've watched some of the tapes, but I'm not going to sit here and say that I (assume) that is what a player can do. There are different circumstances that go behind scheme, where your mind is, all those things."
TAKE A SHOT: After the three stuffed runs by Blount, Freeman ran a fourth-down bootleg from the 1-yard line and rolled right, but DE Cameron Jordan did not bite on the fake handoff. That left Freeman with a two bad options: Try to beat Jordan to the corner and run for the end zone, or make a low-percentage throw to TE Luke Stocker, who was well covered.
Freeman tried to run and lost 4 yards. "Next time, in hindsight, once you realize you can't outrun him, (I should) try and lay it up and give Luke Stocker a chance in the back of the end zone," Freeman said.
LB Will Herring made the stop against Freeman.
QUICK TURNAROUND: The Bucs leave Wednesday for their Thursday night game against the Vikings in Minneapolis.
That has turned things upside-down at One Buc Place as the team dramatically adjusts its schedule.
The Bucs didn't practice Monday but delved right into preparation for the Vikings. Coaches went back to the facility after Sunday's game and began formulating the game plan. When the team plays on the following Sunday, that task normally begins Monday evening and spills into Tuesday.
Schiano emphasized one thing above all, and it wasn't preparation: "I think the key is you have to be sure your guys are physically able to perform. You sit there and say it's the same (for both teams). Well, it's not exactly the same because we have to travel. But that's life. We'll have a Thursday night game in the future where the other team's got to travel. The reality is none of that matters."
INJURY UPDATE: Neither the Bucs nor Vikings had practices, but both were required to release injury reports projecting which players would have been able to practice. For the Bucs, LB Adam Hayward (ankle), WR Vincent Jackson (calf), CB Brandon McDonald (ankle) and LG Carl Nicks (foot) were considered limited. For the Vikings, missing would have been RB Adrian Peterson, T Matt Kalil, DE Jared Allen, CB Antoine Winfield and TE John Carlson.