Slowed by a sore hamstring and his coach's desire not to test fate, rookie running back Doug Martin spent the better part of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' first organized full-squad workout Tuesday watching from the sideline.
Martin won't stay on the sideline for long, and LeGarrette Blount knows it.
A battle for the carries that have gone almost entirely to Blount since he was claimed off waivers two years ago is brewing like a summer storm, and Blount is braced for it.
"I kind of had an idea they were going to draft another (running back) so I came back in the best shape possible,'' said Blount, who is almost 10 pounds leaner than at the end of last season, when he was listed at 6-foot, 247 pounds.
That's what competition can do for you. It can make you leaner and, in the case of Blount, the Bucs' leading rusher the past two seasons, make you hungrier and more defiant.
"(It's mine) until they take it away,'' Blount said of the No. 1 running back spot that many believe will go to Martin, the Boise State product they drafted in the first round in April.
An accomplished pass catcher and pass blocker during his college career, Martin is considered a more versatile back than Blount and, therefore, a better option as the lead ball carrier.
But first-year coach Greg Schiano made it clear Tuesday he is not about to hand the job to Martin based on his versatility or leave it in the hands of Blount hands based on his accomplishments.
"We have to see who performs,'' Schiano said. "As we talked about earlier, you earn your touches here.''
Blount has certainly earned a shot at some touches. In his two seasons as Tampa Bay's lead back he ran 385 times for 1,788 yards and 11 touchdowns, often bouncing off or leaping over defenders.
At the same time, he showed a propensity for mishandling the ball – he lost six of nine fumbles the past two years – and missing assignments as a pass blocker and a runner.
The Bucs spent a first-round pick on Martin and seventh-round pick on another running back, Michael Smith, in the draft. Despite the battle it's created, Blount welcomes the additions.
"We needed it,'' he said of the added depth at running back, where the Bucs had just Blount and little used Mossis Madu prior to the draft. "I can't carry the load all by myself.''
Blount seemed willing to do just that earlier this offseason. Asked prior to the draft about the possibility the team might select Alabama running back Trent Richardson, Blount said flat out he would not be happy with it.
He's already beginning to realize, however, the benefits of adding Martin and Smith, which include making him a better player.
"Them drafting a running back might be what I needed to become an every-down back,'' Blount said.
"Every day I'm proving more and more that I can play on every down. It's still a process, but I have the offense down and I'm in really good shape and so the ball is really in my court.''
It was on Tuesday. With Martin working out on his own on the sideline, Blount got a good chance to prove he is capable of handling a bigger role in the offense, which is all he needs, he said.
"Nobody can affect my carries but me,'' he said. "What (Martin does) doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is how I practice and how fast I get the offense down. That's the only thing that's going to affect my carries.''