Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bucs running attack good in limited opportunities

Earnest Graham rushes for 5 yards in the first quarter Sunday against the Saints. The tailback gained 91 yards on 10 carries in the game, with a career-long run of 46 yards.

BRENDAN FITTERER | Times

Earnest Graham rushes for 5 yards in the first quarter Sunday against the Saints. The tailback gained 91 yards on 10 carries in the game, with a career-long run of 46 yards.

TAMPA — Coach Jon Gruden came away impressed with the Bucs running game Sunday, specifically RB Earnest Graham, saying "we have to give it to him more."

Graham rushed for 91 yards on 10 carries (including a long of 46) in the 24-20 loss to the Saints, and, combined with Warrick Dunn, the Bucs averaged 7.6 yards per carry.

"I thought we ran the ball extremely well," Gruden said. "Unfortunately, we had two holding calls and a 15-yard personal foul, which put us way behind in the down and distance. It kind of took us out of a 'run-it' mentality."

Although Gruden praised the offensive line for "pretty good" pass protection (noting on one sack that Jeff Garcia held the ball too long), what the group did best was run blocking.

"As an offensive lineman, you love to run the ball, especially with a guy behind you like Graham," C Jeff Faine said. "He's a special, special running back — he makes a lot out of nothing sometimes."

Long time coming: CB Phillip Buchanon has said he wants to make more "splash plays" this season, turning turnovers into touchdowns like he did in his days at Miami. Buchanon's 26-yard score on a interception return in the first quarter Sunday was the fifth of his career but first since 2004.

"It felt normal," Buchanon said with a grin. "It definitely felt like I belonged (in the end zone). After me missing the 2005, '06 and '07 years without scoring a touchdown, it just didn't really feel right because I'm so used to scoring."

Pressure: Although Gruden said the Bucs had "some good pressures" in their pass rush — including one sack by DE Greg White — he admitted they'll have to get more out of their four-man rush, especially against the Falcons, who racked up 474 yards against the Lions.

But what struck the Bucs was Atlanta's running game, which included Michael Turner's franchise-record 220 yards (and Jerious Norwood's 93).

"We'll have to tackle extremely well this week," Gruden said.

Stepping in: Gruden praised rookie lineman Jeremy Zuttah, and so did Faine, who said, "from a composure standpoint, I thought (Zuttah) did well. He wasn't wide-eyed or anything."

Action Jackson: Second-round pick Dexter Jackson got better at kick returns as the game wore on after being a little tentative at first, Gruden said. The Bucs subbed Ike Hilliard in for Jackson at times, but Gruden said he's confident the rookie has the makeup for the return spot.

"There's decisionmaking that goes on there and there's also, as you say, deep down you've got to have a lot of guts," Gruden said. "And I think he's got that. He's disciplined, he's been able to take care of the football, and I believe he'll get better and better."

Odd men out: The reason Michael Clayton was inactive Sunday wasn't a medical issue, Gruden said, even though a chest bruise limited the wide receiver last week.

Gruden said Clayton and running back Michael Bennett were victims of the "numbers game," with the Bucs choosing to go with Jackson and Maurice Stovall for their contributions to special teams. Stovall is questionable for Sunday's home opener with a neck strain, which may open up a spot for Clayton. "We'll see Clayton hopefully this week," Gruden said.

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com.

Bucs running attack good in limited opportunities 09/08/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 5:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Aaron Hernandez had severe CTE; daughter sues NFL, Patriots

    Bucs

    BOSTON — Tests conducted on the brain of former football star Aaron Hernandez showed severe signs of the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, and his attorney said Thursday that the player's daughter is suing the NFL and the New England Patriots for leading Hernandez to believe the sport …

    Aaron Hernandez's lawyer says the former New England Patriots tight end's brain showed severe signs of the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy. [AP photo]
  2. Bucs' Josh Robinson excited for return to Vikings

    Bucs

    For much of Josh Robinson's four seasons with the Vikings, there was excitement leading up to the arrival of the $1.1-billion U.S. Bank Stadium, which opened last season, just as Robinson signed with the …

    Josh Robinson (26) tackles Chicago punt returner Eddie Royal (19) during a game between the Bucs and Bears in 2016. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  3. For starters: Rays at Orioles, meeting up with ex-mate Tim Beckham

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 6:05: Cash gave both CF Kevin Kiermaier and SS Adeiny Hechavarria a day off, noting they have been playing pretty much everyday. ... That also gave them a chance to look more at two of their younger position players, OF Mallex Smith and INF Daniel Robertson. ... Cash said he was happy for Beckham that he …

    Tim Beckham made a smashing debut with the Orioles, hitting .394 with six homers and 19 RBIs in August.
  4. From the archives: Account of famed Riggs-King match heightens Tampa mob intrigue

    Tennis

    With the Sept. 29 opening of "Battle of the Sexes" — the movie starring Emma Stone and Steve Carrell about Billie Jean King's landmark 1973 tennis win over Bobby Riggs — we thought there might be renewed interest in this 2013 Peter Jamison story from the Tampa Bay Times.

    Emma Stone as Billie Jean King and Steve Carell as Bobby Riggs in "Battle of the Sexes."  [Melinda Sue Gordon, Fox Searchlight Pictures]
  5. It's not a game, but the names are all the same in this football family

    Footballpreps

    TAMPA — A coach yells across the field into a scrum of blue-and-white clad football bodies at Jefferson High: "Kim Mitchell! Kim Mitchell, come here!"

    These twins are not only identical, but they have almost identical names. Kim Mitchell III, left, and Kim Mitchell IV are  talented football players at Jefferson High with Division I-A college offers. Kim  III wears No. 22 and plays cornerback while Kim IV wears No. 11 and plays safety. (Scott Purks, Special to the Times)