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Kregg Lumpkin brings new look to Tampa Bay Bucs' backfield

Finders keepers: Linebacker Mason Foster (59) celebrates with Quincy Black after a first-quarter fumble recovery. The Bucs kept the Chiefs off the scoreboard in the preseason opener.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Finders keepers: Linebacker Mason Foster (59) celebrates with Quincy Black after a first-quarter fumble recovery. The Bucs kept the Chiefs off the scoreboard in the preseason opener.

Public practice

When/where: 2:30-4:35 p.m. Sunday, One Buc Place, Tampa

Preseason

Thursday: vs. Patriots, 7:30*

Aug. 27: vs. Dolphins, 7:30*

Sept. 1: at Redskins, 7:30

All games on Ch. 10; * — subject to NFL blackout rules

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kregg Lumpkin had one measly rushing attempt for the Bucs in 2010. That one run, for a grand total of zero yards, was hardly enough to draw conclusions from.

But Lumpkin got a bigger dose of action Friday night in the Bucs' preseason opener against the Chiefs, giving his coaches reason to think he could be their solution as a third-down and change-of-pace back behind starting RB LeGarrette Blount.

Lumpkin carried six times for 24 yards and caught two passes for 10. But bigger than his numbers was the skills he showed. He displayed the ability to make tacklers miss and change directions, and showed soft hands as a receiver out of the backfield.

Those are important attributes for third-down backs, who must have diverse abilities and be willing pass-protectors when the need for picking up blitzers arises.

Earnest Graham, still slated to be the fullback, is looking to take on more of a tailback role, and he got the chance briefly in the second quarter, ripping off a 13-yard run that helped position the Bucs for a field goal.

Blount, who desires to play on third down this season, didn't get much of a chance to do so.

MISSING IN ACTION: Several prominent Bucs didn't play. The most notable were starters: DT Gerald McCoy (shoulder), CB Aqib Talib (hip), TE Kellen Winslow (knee) and WR Arrelious Benn (knee).

Outside of McCoy, each was held out as a precaution. All should return for Thursday's home game against New England.

Also missing: CB Myron Lewis, who the team disclosed has a mild hamstring injury; FB Erik Lorig (Achilles'), TE Luke Stocker (hip) and DT Brian Price (pelvis).

WR Raymond Webber, an undrafted free agent, was placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury.

KOENEN'S DEBUT: Free agent kicker and punter Mike Koenen, who signed a six-year, $19 million contract two weeks ago, showed his value by pounding the ball off the tee.

He kicked off four times, recording three touchbacks. His other kick, the opening kickoff, ended with an ill-advised decision by Kansas City's Shane Bannon to bring the ball out of the end zone. Bannon was corralled by defenders at the Chiefs' 8-yard line.

With the NFL's new rule pushing kickoffs up to the 35-yard line, Koenen is likely to have a majority of his kickoffs result in touchbacks.

Koenen was successful in his lone punt attempt, too. With the Bucs facing fourth-and-2 at the 50, he boomed a high-arcing punt, allowing the coverage team to speed downfield. That left the Chiefs' Quinten Lawrence with little choice but to call for a fair catch at the 10.

RIGHT TACKLE: James Lee's holding penalty negated a pass completion that would have set up a first-and-goal in the third quarter.

Lee also missed a block in the second quarter that resulted in a Chiefs defender blowing by him, leaving QB Josh Johnson scrambling.

Lee has been relegated to No. 2 right tackle behind Jeremy Trueblood, who started. Coach Raheem Morris has said he considers the two to be in a position battle, but at first glimpse, Trueblood will remain No. 1.

THE OTHER JOSH: Johnson got expanded playing time and put up impressive numbers. He finished 7-of-12 for 108 yards and a 116 rating, playing most of the second and third quarters.

The fleet-footed Johnson also led the Bucs in rushing, carrying five times for 57 yards, including a 24-yard scramble to the Chiefs' 4.

Johnson was his usually elusive self, making defenders miss and getting out of bad situations in the backfield.

Kregg Lumpkin brings new look to Tampa Bay Bucs' backfield 08/12/11 [Last modified: Thursday, August 18, 2011 10:04pm]
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