Make us your home page

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

Erik Lorig becoming more comfortable on offense for Tampa Bay Buccaneers

TAMPA — Who knew a big key to the Bucs backfield would be a former defensive end drafted in the seventh round?

But that's the scenario as FB Erik Lorig tries to make the case that he can start, thereby freeing up Earnest Graham to help at tailback.

The Bucs realize Graham is not a natural fullback, but he has performed the fullback duties since last season out of necessity. Lorig, who missed the preseason opener with an Achilles' strain, is hoping to do something about it.

"(The coaches) have mentioned me being a bigger part of the puzzle," Lorig said. "I've totally embraced that since the beginning. … I love that kind of pressure. When you have that kind of pressure it means you're doing something right."

Offensive coordinator Greg Olson said his staff has been unable to assess Lorig's ability to take the job over because of the injury, but he is back this week and should play extensively Thursday against New England.

"He's going to get to play this week and he'll play a lot," Olson said. "So we'll see where he is. There's no reason he shouldn't be able to do it. There's a big difference between being out here (at practice) and the game. But he showed some glimpses last year."

Graham remains a very capable runner, gaining 13 yards in his only carry Friday against the Chiefs. The Bucs want to use him as a third-down option and for depth if Lorig progresses. Lorig gained 15 pounds of muscle, according to Olson, and should be a bit better in his execution this season.

"We feel like with another year of having a chance to absorb the system, he'll play with a little more instinct," Olson said. "He wasn't very instinctive last year and part of it was because he really wasn't sure all the time who he was supposed to block. Sometimes he was a little unnatural. He knew who to block, but if there was any kind of in-play adjustment, those things were kind of new to him."

Lorig played tight end as a freshman and sophomore at Stanford before a move to defense. After abruptly switching back last year, he's growing more comfortable.

"I feel like my offensive capacity is much greater now," he said. "I'm much more confident. … It's been a smooth transition."

THE NEW GUY: The Bucs were recently awarded undrafted rookie TE Collin Franklin off waivers from the Jets, and could make things interesting.

According to Olson, Franklin — in his first practice on Tuesday — stepped in nicely and was effective. Franklin, 6 feet 6 and 256 pounds, made several nice catches despite being new to the offense.

The team hopes he'll push Ryan Purvis, rookie Daniel Hardy and Nathan Overbay. That group is essentially battling for the No. 3 tight end spot behind Kellen Winslow and rookie Luke Stocker.

BREAK OUT: Camp breaks today after three weeks of intense work, curfews and being cooped up in the team hotel.

Asked whether he felt his players handled their sudden return to football after NFL lockout better than expected, coach Raheem Morris said, "I've got some high-character, quality young men, so I wasn't expecting them to come back out of shape and all that stuff.

"I'm really fired up where we are. We've still got a lot of room to get better but I look forward to us getting better."

QUOTABLE: Morris on whether the Patriots present a bigger challenge than the Chiefs, who played few of their starters Friday against Tampa Bay:

"It's kind of hard to say the Patriots wouldn't be a better measuring stick. It's the Patriots, (coach) Bill Belichick and it's a great football team that plays hard and plays fast. You hate to say it doesn't matter who plays for them, but it really doesn't. They've got the Patriot Way."

Erik Lorig becoming more comfortable on offense for Tampa Bay Buccaneers 08/16/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 9:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs' O.J. Howard ends big day with BP, first pitch for Rays


    Bucs tight end O.J. Howard is known for his athleticism at 6-foot-6, 251-pounds. As an outfielder, he took his Autuaga Academy High School baseball team to the state tournament in Alabama as a junior.

    On Monday, after a little instruction from Steven Souza, Jr., the left-handed hitting Howard started making …

  2. Arm problems in the past, USF rides pitching into AAC baseball tournament


    TAMPA — By his second relief inning in last year's season opener, USF right-hander Ryan Valdes had lost the fizz on his fastball.

    USF senior right-hander Ryan Valdes, an Alonso High alumnus, is one of three prominent Bulls pitchers flourishing after undergoing Tommy John surgery last year. [USF Athletics]
  3. Ryan Fitzpatrick likes Bucs weapons, believes he's a good fit


    Ryan Fitzpatrick’s experience playing for six other NFL teams is what made him attractive to the Bucs as a backup to starter Jameis Winston. But if he has to play, the former Jets quarterback is happy about all the weapons on Tampa Bay’s offense.

    Ryan Fitzpatrick is happy about all the weapons on Tampa Bay’s offense.
  4. For starters: Rays vs. Angels and Trout, with Odorizzi on mound


    After losing Sunday's game but winning a third straight series, the Rays open a four-game series tonight against the Angels and Mike Trout.

    RHP Jake Odorizzi will be on the mound for the Rays, RHP J.C. Ramirez for the Angels.

    Evan Longoria is getting a DH day, so the Rays have rookie Daniel …

    Jake Odorizzi will be on the mound for the Rays.
  5. Lightning's Swedes live their dream in Worlds


    You could see it in his face.

    Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman screamed as he hoisted the World Championship trophy Sunday afternoon in Cologne, Germany, and it looked like an exhale that was years in the making. Stralman kissed the forehead of Swedish teammate Joel Lundqvist, the joy unmistakable.

    Victor Hedman of Sweden celebrate with his teammates after scoring the opening goal in the gold-medal game against Canada.