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Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris: Role of Earnest Graham reducing his carries

Bucs running back Earnest Graham is tackled by Saints linebacker Scott Shanle during the third quarter Sunday.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Bucs running back Earnest Graham is tackled by Saints linebacker Scott Shanle during the third quarter Sunday.

TAMPA — Bucs coach Raheem Morris began the season by saying he wanted to rotate RBs Cadillac Williams, Derrick Ward and Earnest Graham.

The idea was to keep them all fresh and go with the hot back.

Graham had 31 yards on three carries in Sunday's 38-7 loss to the Saints. But Graham's role as the starting fullback prevented him from having more carries, Morris said.

FB Chris Pressley is still learning the offense and can play only in a limited number of formations. Graham took over as the starting fullback when B.J. Askew injured his neck and back in a car accident.

"Well, you got to say Sunday, (Graham) ran the ball better than Derrick Ward," Morris said. "(Graham) got the ball a couple of times, made some dynamic runs and dynamic cuts. The problem is he's our starting fullback. He's been out there playing fullback for Cadillac and Derrick Ward. (Graham) is the most unselfish player on our football team. He's got to be one of them at least in the top five. We'd like to get him the ball. We threw a couple of balls to him in the flat. He's a weapon, too."

Williams led the Bucs with 32 yards on 11 carries (2.9 average) against the Saints. Ward had 26 yards on seven carries.

"The only problem with (Sunday) is Earnest is the starting fullback, so he got some one-back runs, and that is why he was in those series," Morris said. "In a two-back set, the fullback was Earnest, unless it was the small package we had for Pressley (Sunday). That wasn't much."

Injury update: RT Jeremy Trueblood left Sunday's game with a right knee injury. Morris had no update on his condition Monday but said the team is concerned.

"Any time a player goes down, you have concerns about it," Morris said.

MOVES: The Bucs signed former Arizona State QB Rudy Carpenter from the Cowboys' practice squad, giving the team four quarterbacks on the 53-man roster.

But veteran Byron Leftwich is staying put. Leftwich, 29, went 0-3 starting for the Bucs after winning a training camp battle with Luke McCown, who was traded to Jacksonville.

But Leftwich has not practiced or played the past several weeks because of tendonitis in his right (throwing) elbow.

Carpenter was one of the most productive quarterbacks in Pac-10 history. He passed for 10,491 yards and 81 career touchdowns while making 43 consecutive starts.

Tampa Bay already has turned an eye to the future at quarterback. First-round pick Josh Freeman has taken over as the starter, and Josh Johnson, a second-year pro from San Diego who was 0-4 as a starter, is the No. 2 quarterback.

The Bucs are expected to sign former Nebraska WR Terrence Nunn from the Patriots' practice squad. Nunn ranks second on the Cornhuskers career receiving list and can provide help as a kick returner.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris: Role of Earnest Graham reducing his carries 11/23/09 [Last modified: Monday, November 23, 2009 10:40pm]

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