TAMPA — The Bucs are optimistic their worrisome running back situation is about to improve.
Coach Raheem Morris said Wednesday that he expects starter LeGarrette Blount to return to the lineup after this week's bye, saying Blount likely will be ready to play Nov. 6 at New Orleans. Blount has missed two games with a knee injury, a problem compounded Sunday when his replacement, Earnest Graham, was lost for the season with a torn Achilles' tendon.
"I'm really confident about Blount," Morris said. "… He looked good running last week. He looked better (Wednesday). He'll have another week of rest and he'll be able to come back (next) week, get a bunch of treatment and be ready to go."
The Bucs promoted rookie RB Mossis Madu from the practice squad. Madu caught the eyes of coaches during the preseason but was not kept on the final roster because the Bucs retained sixth-round pick Allen Bradford. Bradford was released two weeks ago.
The Bucs also made a move at fullback, signing former Oklahoma Sooner Matt Clapp to the practice squad. Graham was also the backup to starter Erik Lorig.
Elsewhere on the injury front, Morris expressed optimism about most of the club's injured players. LB Mason Foster (ankle) and DT Gerald McCoy (ankle) practiced Wednesday while S Tanard Jackson (hamstring), C Jeff Faine (biceps) and OL Jeremy Zuttah (ankle) have shown progress and have a chance to play against the Saints.
SEEING iS BELIEVING: Morris subjected his players to a video session Wednesday featuring all of this season's preventable penalties, as he described them.
Of the team's 59 penalties, Morris estimated 47 could have been avoided. The Bucs average 8.4 penalties per game, second-most in the NFL.
"I showed my team the (penalties) that we can affect and the ones that we can control and be a little bit better on," Morris said. "You're talking about holding, you're talking about false starts — whether they be offense or defense — you're talking about procedural issues, with wideouts or with tight ends."
SPEAKING OF PENALTIES: Morris was asked Wednesday whether he had a better idea of what happened during CB Aqib Talib's dust-up with Bears WR Roy Williams. The personal foul on Talib, after Chicago was stopped on third down in the closing minutes Sunday, gave the Bears a first down and allowed them to take time off the clock before kicking a field goal.
Officials said Talib stuck his hand inside Williams' face mask. Morris said Talib denied that.
"Aqib Talib came to me and was (professing) his innocence," Morris said. "… I didn't see it directly. Obviously he did something and he got a flag. If he did anything wrong, he certainly didn't feel like he did anything wrong. He went out there and played his butt off and played hard in order to get us another stop.
"I know if he would've done something wrong it would've been all over SportsCenter this week. There's a lot of cameras out there."