Like his bulldozing running style, LeGarrette Blount is not going to dance around an issue when he can plow through it. So when asked how the Buccaneers' selection of Boise State running back Doug Martin will affect his workload, Blount did not stiff-arm the topic.
"I think nobody can affect my carries but me," Blount said. "They drafted him because we needed him. But at the end of the day, we're both going to play. Don't nobody affect my carries but me, not what he does, not what anybody else does, just how I practice and how fast I get the offense down pat and everything like that. That's the only thing that will affect my carries."
So despite the addition of Martin and Utah State running back Michael Smith in the draft, does Blount see himself as the starting tailback?
"Yeah," he said smiling, "until they take it away."
That's not to suggest Blount couldn't see what was happening at the running back position shortly after coach Greg Schiano was hired from Rutgers. In March, Schiano was critical of Blount's lack of ball security. In two pro seasons, Blount has fumbled nine times, losing six.
With only Blount and Mossis Madu on the roster at running back, it was inevitable the Bucs would fortify that position, perhaps with the No. 5 overall pick. Tampa Bay traded down two spots to select Alabama safety Mark Barron while picking up a fourth-round pick. The Bucs then used that extra selection to trade back into the first round and take Martin 31st.
Even before the draft, Blount knew the Bucs were going to find someone to come after his job. So he took advantage of the offseason program to lose between 5 and 10 pounds. "I kind of had the idea they were going to draft another guy, so you've got to come back in the best shape possible," Blount said.
On the first day of the Bucs' team workouts on Tuesday, Blount took his spot as the No. 1 tailback while a gimpy Martin worked on another field with a trainer helping him recover from a hamstring strain.
Blount, the Bucs' leading rusher the past two seasons with 1,788 yards and 11 touchdowns (4.6 average), has rarely been used on passing downs or as a receiver. He has 20 career receptions for 162 yards and no touchdowns. Under new offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, Blount hopes for more opportunities in the passing game.
"I'm proving more and more every day that I can play on every down," Blount said.
Blount believes the competition with Martin and Smith will make him a more complete player.
"You've got to be a competitor and competition is what makes guys better than what they would usually be," Blount said.
"Nobody in the NFL can ever be comfortable. You have your select few that can. Adrian Petersons and your Ray Rices and your Arian Fosters. You have a handful that can be comfortable in their offense no matter who you draft. No, I haven't gotten comfortable, I haven't established that kind of credibility yet."
Schiano said performance in training camp and preseason games will determine the running back workload.
"It's way too early for that," Schiano said. "We have to see who performs. You earn your touches. So depending on how you practice and how you play in the preseason, that will determine how many touches you get by percentage, whether it's ballcarriers or pass catchers or whatever. Pass catchers, sometimes the defense can dictate a little more. But ballcarriers? We make that decision."