TAMPA — RB LeGarrette Blount said after Sunday's loss to Atlanta that he believed there was not enough of an opening to run where he was instructed on the Bucs' fourth-and-inches play from the Falcons' 2. He was stopped and Atlanta ran out the clock.
After reviewing the play over the last few days, Blount had a slightly different take.
"We all could have done something different," he said Wednesday. "I could have run the play different. I could have taken it straight ahead and possibly ran a guy over and got the first down. Or we could have had a different call. Everybody takes fault in it."
Bucs coaches echoed those sentiments, imploring fans and media not to pin the blame for the loss on Blount, who bounced the play outside rather than running behind RG Davin Joseph as planned.
Coach Raheem Morris said Monday, "That was not the singular play of the game that stopped us" and came to the defense of his rookie back.
That resonated with Blount.
"It's always nice for a coach to have your back," he said.
The focus now, he said, is on moving forward. Blount sees big things for himself and the offense.
"We're going to continue to get better as a team," he said. "Our offensive line is going to continue maturing. (RB) Cadillac (Williams) is going to keep teaching me and showing me what to do. (FB) Earnest (Graham) is going to come back after what happened (the death of his mother) and continue to mentor me. Everybody's getting healthy. We're definitely going to be able to make some strides."
O-LINE IMPROVING: The offensive line is close to returning to its original five-man lineup.
C Jeff Faine (quad) and RT Jeremy Trueblood (knee) practiced Wednesday without limitations, meaning the two linemen are a step closer to returning. That would return the offensive line to its 2009 lineup of Trueblood, Faine, Joseph, Jeremy Zuttah and Donald Penn.
If Faine returns, Zuttah is expected to return to left guard after filling in for Faine during the past four games. That would send backup Ted Larsen, who has started at left guard the past three weeks, back to the bench.
Faine and Trueblood have to pass an important benchmark today, when the Bucs are scheduled for a practice wearing pads.
"We just have to get them through a practice week first," Morris said. "… We have to get those guys back to speed, and we'll see where they are. We'll definitely know (today)."
Elsewhere, the Bucs were without Graham (hamstring), DE Kyle Moore (shoulder) and DT Ryan Sims (knee). LB Quincy Black (ankle) was limited, as was WR Sammie Stroughter (foot). TE Kellen Winslow (knee) also missed practice, but that has become standard for Wednesdays.
COMING HOME: The Bucs signed former USF LB Tyrone McKenzie to their practice squad Wednesday, getting him back on a roster after his release from the Patriots this week. McKenzie, a Riverview native, was a third-round pick of New England last season but suffered a season-ending knee injury as a rookie. His first practice made something of an impression.
"He was a really detailed kid (on Wednesday)," Morris said. "You can see he's sharp and bright-eyed. He's into it. That's always a good first sign. … He's one of those prospects we liked from a year ago, and we get a chance to get in that second wave of the draft like we like to call it around here."