TAMPA — The Bucs want to rejuvenate their running game, which means rested legs and fresh faces.
Starting Sunday at Cincinnati, Cadillac Williams will begin to split carries with Kareem Huggins and rookie LeGarrette Blount, offensive coordinator Greg Olson said.
Williams has 55 carries for 139 yards this season, his 2.5-yard average the third worst among backs with 20 or more carries.
Olson said the running back-by-committee approach is needed, especially given Williams' age (28) and history of knee surgeries (two).
"We've got a Cadillac Williams who has … done a tremendous job of coming back as a player," Olson said Monday. "But at this time in his career, he's probably a player who needs a rest; that needs a break or it would be difficult. We need to get Cadillac a rest, and we need to make sure he's fresh when he is in the game."
"Obviously, on our part, too, there's a tremendous amount of trust that we have in Cadillac Williams to get lined up correctly, to know the blitz checks, to know his protection assignments. So there's a trust factor there as well that Kareem Huggins and LeGarrette Blount are earning with us right now."
Bucs players were off Monday and unavailable for comment.
Huggins, a second-year pro from Hofstra who led the Bucs in rushing during the preseason, has missed the past two games with a groin strain. Blount, the former Oregon star who was claimed off waivers from Tennessee last month, made his debut Sept. 26 against Pittsburgh and carried six times for 27 yards and a touchdown.
Whereas Blount might be used primarily in short-yardage and goal-line situations against the Bengals, Huggins' role is likely to be on third down or to provide an explosive play using his speed. The Bucs also have Kregg Lumpkin, whom they claimed off waivers from Green Bay.
"He's a great change of pace back for us," Olson said of Huggins. "He has great speed. That's why it will be nice to have him back and get a chance to see what he can do because we haven't gotten a chance to see it yet in a regular-season game."
Williams, in his sixth season, has just one carry of more than 10 yards this season. He will continue to start while Blount and Huggins define their roles.
The Bucs spent the bye week giving Blount nearly all of the first-team reps so he could gain a better understanding of the offense, especially pass protection.
"Cadillac has been out there and running, and he's our guy to go out there and get us in the right direction," coach Raheem Morris said. "We'll be fired up to see these guys play. We don't want to … dictate what those guys are going to do; kind of let the game come to those guys.
"If (the Steelers game) could've stayed within reach, (Blount) might have gotten more carries and we could be talking about a whole different story about what we want to see from him and Cadillac, both. We'll have a chance to do that this week."
BUCS NOTES: Rookie and ex-Florida State receiver Preston Parker, who made his debut against the Steelers as a kick returner, is expected to be on the active roster against the Bengals. … The Bucs have moved rookie Erik Lorig, a seventh-round pick from Stanford, from defensive end to tight end/fullback. He will wear No. 44.
Rick Stroud can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.