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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs RB Blount makes most of opportunity

arichardson@tampatrib.com
Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 11:02 PM
TAMPA -

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris talked about using running back LaGarrette Blount the last three weeks.

Bucs fans finally had a chance to see what the hype was all about.

Blount had one of the most productive outings of any Bucs running back this season after gaining 72 yards on 11 carries during Tampa Bay's 18-17 victory against St. Louis at Raymond James Stadium.

Previously, Cadillac Williams rushed 22 times for 75 yards in Tampa Bay's season opener against Cleveland, while Earnest Graham gained 65 yards on three carries against Cincinnati. "It was awesome. I love it," Blount said. "Just being a part of a win like this and just being a part of a close game like this. For me to have as many carries as I did, it was awesome."

Blount entered the game with 10 carries in two games and had 11 against the Rams. It was what he did with his opportunities Sunday that was more remarkable. Tampa Bay's rookie running back averaged 6.5 yards a carry. He had a 46-yard gain in the fourth quarter negated after Jeremy Trueblood was penalized for an illegal block above the waist, which could have resulted in a 100-yard plus game.

Blount's aggressive running style, coupled with his ability to bounce off tackles, has become a source of sideline excitement for the Bucs.

"I'm excited, man," Morris said. "You can't say enough about the young man. I wish they didn't take away that big run from him. He runs hard, he runs resilient, he runs tough.

"He's kind of a symbol of our football team and some of the good things that we talk about."

While Morris is saying good things about Blount, others have used his success to criticize Williams, Tampa Bay's starting running back.

Williams rushed four times for 12 yards against St. Louis, but caught the game-winning touchdown pass, a 1-yarder from Josh Freeman, with 10 seconds remaining. Blount said Williams and Graham have mentored him this season, but neither is threatened by their protégé's success.

"At times it's frustrating [not to play as much], but just to see a young guy do good, it is what it is," Williams said. "The guys stepped up, the O-line did a really good job, and we came out with a 'W,' and that's the most important thing."

Bucs left tackle Donald Penn also believed it was important to stress Blount's success against St. Louis did not mean Williams has failed. "It's all on the offensive line," Penn said. "We have to do a better job. I feel bad for Cadillac because a lot of people were on him and on him and saying it was Cadillac's fault. Cadillac can't do nothing without us.

"We take that responsibility 100 percent. We put that on us. We have to keep working and keep working and it's starting to open up. Hopefully we keep progressing."

Tampa Bay is optimistic Blount's play will help its running game progress.

Morris would not say if Blount would start next week against Arizona, but expects to utilize him more this season.

"The offensive line stepped up and opened huge holes for us," Blount said. "Cadillac went in and had some good runs. With Cadillac and Earnest carry me up under their wings, and being good role models to me, I can't go wrong."

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