The New Orleans Saints may get an unusually heavy dose of Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back LeGarrette Blount when the two teams meet in their first-place showdown at the Superdome this week.
Blount said Tuesday that he expects to get regular work on third downs when he makes his return to action following a near month-long absence due to a left knee sprain.
"I know I'm going to play third downs in this game,'' Blount said before he and the Bucs returned to practice at One Buc Place. "I probably won't play all of them but I know I'll play quite a few of them.
"I've shown that I know the protections and that I know the routes and that I can catch the ball so that's going to help us out tremendously. And it's going to help me stay in the game a little longer and play a lot more snaps.''
Blount is slated to get more work on third downs this week after Tampa Bay's top third-down back, Earnest Graham, was sidelined for the rest of the season with a torn Achilles' tendon.
The Bucs limited Blount's third-down snaps during the first half of the year, but Blount has said all season long that his goal is to become a reliable every-down back.
Blount has been out since injuring his knee a Week 5 game at San Francisco. Despite his absence he continues to lead the team in rushing with 328 yards and three touchdowns on 77 carries.
Blount said he is not concerned about fatigue setting in when he returns because he was able to run and work out on the field during his absence from the lineup.
"I feel good,'' Blount said. "Everything is back in (order); everything is back where it needs to be. My recovery was a little faster than we thought (it would be), so everything is going really well.''
SAFETY SIGNED: The Bucs on Tuesday signed free agent safety David Sims, an undrafted rookie from Iowa State who had previously signed with the New York Giants. He made 96 tackles, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one interception as a college senior.