Bucs show focus on running game

It might be awhile before LeGarrette Blount or rookie Doug

Martin is declared the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ starting tailback.

Coach Greg Schiano doesn’t see any urgency on that front.

”I’m not going to make it happen,” Schiano said Saturday. ”If

I feel it should go one way and the staff feels that way, I’ll do

it. Otherwise they’re two good backs and a lot of teams do that

now, in this day and age.”

Developing a running game is a top priority for the new head

coach of a team that ran the ball fewer than 22 times per game last

season, the least of any NFL team.

The Bucs ran 25 times in the first half of their 20-7 win over

the Dolphins on Friday night in the preseason opener for both

teams, with Blount and Martin each getting seven carries and a


”It was good. Everything that we’ve practiced is coming to

life,” said Blount, Tampa Bay’s leading rusher in each of the last

two seasons. ”We scored on our first two drives, and that’s what

you always plan to do.”

The Bucs traded into the first round to draft Martin, a quick

and compact running back out of Boise State. That sent a message to

Blount, who came to camp with his job on the line after losing five

fumbles last season and experiencing a big dropoff from his

1,007-yard performance of 2010.

Schiano sent a message in the spring about the kind of offense

he intends to run, first by drafting Martin and then by signing

All-Pro guard Carl Nicks to a five-year contract. To the coach,

establishing the ground game is a higher priority than deciding who

will carry the football.

”No matter what the decision is, they’ve both shown already

that they’re going to help us, that they’re both going to run the

ball,” Schiano said. ”I think it’s going to be a fluid situation

until someone kind of distinguishes himself as deserving more

touches. But I can’t tell you how it’s going to go right now. I

don’t know.”

NOTES: Rookie OL Mike VanDerMeulen was the only injury casualty

Friday night. He had an MRI taken on his left leg. … Safety Mark

Barron, the first of the Bucs’ two first-round draft picks, was

held out of the Miami game because of a minor toe injury. Schiano

expects him to play next Friday against Tennessee.