TAMPA — LeGarrette Blount is a 6-foot, 247-pound running back who has been known to hurdle defenders in the open field. But now the Bucs need their two-time rushing leader to help jump-start their anemic running game.
Since losing the starting job to Boise State rookie Doug Martin, Blount has rushed only seven times for 27 yards in three games this season — Martin has 63 rushes for 213 yards and one touchdown. Coach Greg Schiano said Wednesday that he'd like to get Blount in the game plan more.
The Bucs are 21st in rushing offense at 94.7 yards per game.
"I think LeGarrette, we need to get him more involved, but I'm not going to make any changes the way we're doing it, just give him a little more action," Schiano said. "There was the whole thing with the injury and then we weren't sure what it was, and it kind of threw things into flux a little bit. I think he's practicing very well now and he's ready to go, so I think we'll have a good 1-2 punch like we envisioned early on. That's what my hope is."
Blount, who led the team in rushing with 1,007 yards in 2010 and 781 last season, suffered a stinger two weeks ago against Carolina. He was in uniform but did not play against the Giants before rebounding Sunday with four carries for 19 yards against the Cowboys.
"I'll be very happy to see that," guard Carl Nicks said of Blount. "I'm waiting for it. I love Doug to death. Because LeGarrette, what did he have? (Four) carries and (19 yards?). Enough said, right?
"It changes up how the defense plays the run. The way you tackle LeGarrette is way different than how you tackle Doug. It's night and day. Even when it's a 2-yard gain, it takes three or four guys to take Blount down. But you need that thunder and lightning aspect in the running game, and I think we've got it and hopefully we use it."
Blount said he was looking forward to contributing more.
"I'm excited about it," Blount said. "I hope that's what we get to, because you know, I want to play ball, too. Hopefully, we can get up to that."
'A lot of guys numbers have been called lately due to injuries. I'm just waiting my turn. Hopefully, I'll get more carries."
Schiano said his plan to play Blount more is not necessarily a reflection on Martin, whose longest run this season is 17 yards and whose 3.4 average has been below expectations for the 31st overall pick. The season-ending injury to Pro Bowl guard Davin Joseph has been a factor as well.
"I think he's running hard, I think he's running well," Schiano said of Martin. "I don't think we've done as good a job blocking as I thought we would be able to, but I have this vision and then you lose Davin and that throws it into a state of flux and we're starting a new guy at tackle (Demar Dotson), so I think we're going to clearly get better as we move forward."
However, Schiano doesn't want to put a percentage on the carries for each back.
"I'm not sure I have that, it's more of the perfect feel type thing," Schiano said. "When it feels good and he gets in there and it feels right and he makes the right decision and starts running people over and hurdling and all the rest of the stuff and then you bring Dougie back and he's fresh again, that's the perfect world. … But you've got to be careful because if you go totally by feel, you can look up and it's the fourth quarter and he's got one carry. So it's a delicate balance.
"Then I want to be able to play-action pass, I want to be able to drop-back pass, I want to be able to run the whole gamut of things. What we have not been able to do, especially last week, as effectively run the ball when we've wanted to. … We've been able to run it at times. There are other times where it is a 1-yard, a 0-yard, a 2-yard gain. A successful run, 3.5 yards three times, you've got a first down."
Rick Stroud can be heard from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays on WDAE-620. View his blog at tampabay.com/blogs/bucs.