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Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign RB LeGarrette Blount, release two

TAMPA — General manager Mark Dominik looked at the Bucs' running back position after they cut their roster to 53 players and didn't like what he saw.

Cadillac Williams, 28, has two surgically repaired knees and is in the final year of his contract; Earnest Graham, 30, whom the club had moved to fullback; and Kareem Huggins, 24, who never has carried the football in a regular-season game.

Yet Dominik knows how to find value in the NFL's discount bin.

Monday, the Bucs claimed former Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount off waivers from the Titans and released veteran receiver Reggie Brown.

Blount (6 feet, 247 pounds), known more for punching a Boise State player in the Ducks' season opener in 2009 than his feats afoot, was the second running back acquired by the Bucs in as many days. They claimed Kregg Lumpkin (5-11, 228) off waivers from the Packers on Sunday and released running back Clifton Smith.

Last week, the Bucs released running back Derrick Ward, who was signed by the Texans.

"It was one of those things where we really felt we had a lot of depth at the receiver position and we didn't feel great where we were at running back, and … we did what I felt was in the best interest of the entire football team," Dominik said. "A few years back, we lost three or four running backs in a row, and I could see it deteriorate quickly.

"So this was an opportunity to grab two really good players we hope can help our football team hopefully in 2010 and beyond."

That wasn't the only move the Bucs made Monday. They signed punter Chris Bryan, who was let go by the Packers, and released rookie punter Brent Bowden, a sixth-round pick from Virginia Tech.

Bryan, a 6-6, 220-pound former Australian rules football player, averaged 42 yards with the Packers in the preseason.

The Bucs were disappointed in Bowden's lack of consistency; he averaged 36.5 yards on 20 punts in the preseason with a net of 35.9. Bowden is the only Bucs draft choice to be released in the past two years before his rookie season.

"With Bowden, the reason for the change is consistency," Dominik said. "We ask that out of every position on our football team, including the punter. I still have a lot of hope and belief in him."

The Bucs hope to re-sign Bowden to the practice squad if he clears waivers. They added tackle Derek Hardman, receiver Dezmon Briscoe and tackle Will Barker.

By far, the most scrutinized move will be Blount, who punched Boise State defensive end Byron Hout after a game Sept. 3, 2009, was suspended for eight games and went undrafted.

Blount and his temper made news with the Titans when he punched defensive end Eric Bakhtiari after having his own helmet ripped off for the second time in consecutive plays.

But Titans coach Jeff Fisher downplayed the incident and called coach Raheem Morris on Monday to give Blount an endorsement.

"If I was very concerned about it, we wouldn't have made the move," Dominik said of Blount's history. "Obviously, we felt he's got a lot of ability, and we're looking forward to him helping the Bucs as we go forward."

Three other teams — Denver, Houston and Seattle — submitted waiver claims for Lumpkin.

"He's a talented, big back," Morris said. "He provides some of that versatility like an Earnest Graham where he can potentially play some fullback stuff or at least learn it. He's a big, pounding back at the end of a game. For us the exciting part is to fill that role, that other banger besides Cadillac if you want to take some hits off of Earnest Graham and things of that nature.

"In Week 13 and Week 10 when it gets sticky and you get ankles and you get shoulders and you get groin injuries and all those things running backs get in this league, he might be somebody to go in there and punish some people for you and do some versatile things like an Earnest Graham as well."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign RB LeGarrette Blount, release two 09/06/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 7, 2010 9:24am]
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