Sunday, May 27, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs prepare for Chiefs running game

TAMPA — The Bucs still don't know which Chiefs quarterback they'll face Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.

Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said Wednesday that QB Matt Cassel (concussion) is having tests and hasn't been cleared to play yet. They're preparing (for now) as if backup Brady Quinn will step in.

But Bucs coach Greg Schiano and his players say that uncertainty hasn't dramatically impacted their game planning.

"We're preparing for the Chiefs offense," LB Quincy Black said. "They're a run-first football team, and that's how we're going to prepare."

Regardless of the quarterback, the Chiefs rely heavily on workhorse RB Jamaal Charles, the NFL's leading rusher (551 yards). Kansas City is third in the league in rushing attempts (174).

Schiano believes the Chiefs will stay with their strong philosophy no matter who starts and says they have enough video on Quinn, the former first-round pick from Notre Dame who would be making his first start since 2009.

"He hasn't started a game in a while, but he's played in the league, he understands what it takes to run an offense and run a team," Crennel said in a conference call.

"And I think he's been preparing his whole time in the league and many times, as he always says, he's always been one play away. And so if it's determined that he gets the next play as he did on Sunday … I think he's going to operate the offense efficiently."

Cassel had been struggling as the Chiefs fell to 1-4, with nine interceptions, five fumbles and a 66.2 quarterback rating. When Cassel went down Sunday, some of the Chiefs home fans cheered, drawing the ire of T Eric Winston, who called the fans reaction "sickening" and "embarrassing" in a postgame rant.

"No one wants to see anyone get hurt," Crennel said. "I think historically, you look back, you'll see the Kansas City Chiefs fans are very supportive and are great fans. And Eric reacted to a situation that occurred where a minority of fans did something, and he was speaking to the minority and not to the majority. I think the majority of the Chiefs fans are very supportive of the Chiefs."

BLOUNT FORCE: Only time will tell whether RB LeGarrette Blount assumes a larger role in the Bucs offense in the weeks to come, as coaches have suggested.

But Blount is helping his case by performing better in practice.

"I think LeGarrette has practiced better the last couple weeks," Schiano said. "I think when you prepare better you play better."

Schiano places great emphasis on practice performance when determining the roles of players on game day. Blount has 13 carries in four games after giving way to first-round pick Doug Martin (71 carries) in the starting lineup. Neither has had great success — Martin is averaging 3.5 yards per carry, Blount 3.4 — but the Bucs hope the backs' difference in style creates problems for defenses.

"I'm going to come in there and try to make the best of all my opportunities," Blount said. "Try to make them play me more."

REAL MCCOY: As well as DT Gerald McCoy has played this season, with three sacks and eight tackles for loss, Schiano has been impressed with his week-to-week improvement.

"What he's doing is whetting his own appetite and ours for what can be in the future," Schiano said. "The thing that's nice about Gerald, he has the ability to be a superstar in this league, and he takes coaching really well and wants to be better. And that's a good combination to have."

Times staff writer Stephen F. Holder contributed to this report.

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