Buccaneers running back LeGarrette Blount got up from a stool in front of his locker late Wednesday, took three steps and suddenly found his feet tangled up in a pair of shoulder pads that had been left on the floor nearby.
Blount stumbled for a step or two, then quickly regained his balance and trotted away as if the nothing had happened, which is precisely what the Bucs are hoping he can do for their wobbly rushing attack.
Dissatisfied with a running game that ranks near the bottom of the league in both yards per carry and yards per game, Bucs coach Greg Schiano plans to use Blount more in the hope it will spark his team's faltering offense.
"I am not thinking about making any changes with the way we are doing things,'' Schiano said. "I just want to give LeGarrette a little more action. That way, we can have a good one-two punch like we envisioned early on.''
Schiano envisioned an offense in which Blount complemented rookie starter Doug Martin in the running game. Through three games, though, neither that vision nor the running attack has materialized.
Martin has 63 carries to Blount's seven. With Martin averaging 3.4 yards per carry, which ranks 42nd in the league, the results no longer justify the Bucs maintaining those distribution levels.
Not that Schiano is blaming Martin for the struggles. Tampa Bay ranks 21st in the league with 94.7 yards running per game for reasons that stretch well beyond Martin's failure to meet the league's per-carry average of 4.1 yards.
Schiano, in fact, believes Martin is "running hard, running well.'' He does not believe, however, the offensive line has blocked well, in part because of the loss of right guard Davin Joseph to a season-ending knee injury.
"When you lose Davin, that throws it into a little bit of a state of flux,'' Schiano said. "And now we're starting a new guy (Demar Dotson) at (right) tackle, so I do think we'll get better as we move forward.''
Pro Bowl left guard Carl Nicks agrees that inadequate blocking is the reason the running game has struggled. He also believes Blount is the key to making the running game better sooner.
"I'd be very happy to see that,'' Nicks said of using Blount more. "I've been waiting for it. I love Doug to death, but LeGarrette, what did he have last week, two carries for 16 yards or something like that? Enough said, right?''
In Sunday's 16-10 loss at Dallas, Blount gained 15 yards on his first two carries and 19 total on four carries. What he provides, Nicks said, is an element that forces defenses to change the way they play the Bucs.
"The way you tackle LeGarrette Blount is way different than the way you tackle Doug Martin,'' Nicks said. "It's like night and day, because it takes three or four guys to take LeGarrette down.
"But you also need that thunder and lightning aspect in the run game to be successful, and I think we've got it with Doug and LeGarrette, so hopefully we are going to start to use that more. I'm all for it.''
So is Blount. The Bucs' leading ground gainer each of the past two seasons, he has patiently waited in the wings this year while Martin received the bulk of the workload. He's eager to prove he's worthy of a greater role.
"Doug is a good running back and I think he has a lot more in store than what people think and what's he shown lately, but as for me, I feel like I can still play and have an impact on the game,'' Blount said.
"So, I'm definitely excited. I'm excited about it and I hope that's what we get to do because I want to play ball, too. Hopefully this will allow me to do that.''
Schiano believes running the ball effectively in any situation is critical to a team's success.
"What we have not been able to do, at least last week, is effectively run the ball when we wanted to,'' Schiano said. "At times we did, but not consistently. And when you run the ball, you run it when you want to consistently.
"We have been able to run it at times, but then we get a 1-yard or no-yard or 2-yard gain. A successful run, obviously, is a 3-and-a-third-yard gain three times, because then you have a first down. So, we've got to be over the 3-yard mark. What exactly is that? Is it 4 yards (per carry)? Is it 3 yards and change that is successful? We use different parameters, but that's what we need to have."