LeGarrette Blount had a solid training camp and was off to a good start in the preseason until he was chopped to the turf following a 4-yard run in the second half Friday night against the Tennessee Titans.
Blount grabbed his left leg in obvious pain, and having witnessed similar scenes twice with Cadillac Williams, who tore the patellar tendon in both knees, Bucs fans probably feared the worst.
But Blount's injury was limited to his groin and isn't considered too serious. He walked off the field under his own power. He figures to miss some practice this week and perhaps the third preseason game, this Friday against the New England Patriots.
"I don't know how long, but I don't think it's going to be serious," coach Greg Schiano said. "Will it be this week? I don't know. But I don't think it will be an extended period of time."
Schiano wants a ground-and-pound offensive attack and certainly Blount is the hammer of the tandem that includes Boise State rookie Doug Martin.
At 5 feet 9, 215 pounds, Martin has the kind of wiggle and burst not seen from a smaller Bucs back since Warrick Dunn. But he's thick and powerful enough to move piles.
If Blount can't make it back by the regular season opener, Sept. 9 against Carolina, at least the Bucs have Martin, who seems capable of carrying the rushing load. But there's no question the Bucs are better with Blount and Martin together.
"I thought Doug ran the ball nicely, which was an upside," Schiano said. "He had a 9-yard pop … and a 16-yard run that didn't count because a penalty brought it back. I thought those were nice runs. Those weren't just, 'there was a hole and I ran through it.' He made something happen on both of them. He's done that a few times now, which is good."
TIGHT END TROUBLE?: One Bucs weakness last season was at tight end, particularly when it comes to blocking. Kellen Winslow was primarily a receiver. As a rookie, Luke Stocker was oft-injured.
This season, the Bucs are banking on former Colts TE Dallas Clark, 33, regaining his old form. Meanwhile, Stocker suffered concussion-like symptoms after a collision in practice last Monday and missed a week. He is expected to return to practice this week.
"He wasn't feeling well. We sent him to the doctors and he's okay," Schiano said. "So whether it was concussion or whatever it was, I don't know why that was said. I stay away from that word (concussion) unless the doctor tells me that's what it is. … We take it very, very seriously though, so if a guy has anything where he doesn't feel well, we're going to err on the side of caution. He probably could've played Friday but we weren't going to risk it."
Developing a third tight end has been tough. The latest discovery is Danny Noble, a 6-5, 248-pound rookie from Toledo. He had two receptions for 11 yards against the Titans.
"I think Danny did some good things. He's getting better," Schiano said. "You know how it is, when one man goes down, it's another man's opportunity. Was he spectacular? No. But I thought he did a good job for a guy with his first real bunch of first action. I thought that was promising, so we'll keep moving forward with it."
STOCK UP: The more S Ahmad Black plays, the better the Bucs feel about him. Black, a fifth-round pick from Florida in 2011, returned an interception against Jake Locker to set up Tampa Bay's only score Friday.
"He seems to be around the ball quite a bit, whether it's practice or a game, now that he did it in the game," Schiano said. "He has a knack."