Blount bulls his way to running back split
By RICK STROUD
St. Petersburg Times Staff Writer
After their performance in Sunday's 18-17 win over the Rams, Cadillac Williams and LeGarrette Blount were each awarded a game ball by Bucs coach Raheem Morris.
But they can expect to share one for the rest of the season.
Blount made his case for more playing time by rushing 11 times for 72 yards, 66 yards in the second half. He had a 46-yard run called back after a penalty.
At 6 feet, 247 pounds, Blount used his powerful running style to ignite the offense Sunday.
"The guy is definitely a pounder," Williams said. "You just see him and his looks. He is a physical guy and a punishing ballcarrier. He had some strong runs where he broke some tackles, so it was really, really good to see that. I told him that I really feel like he energized the offense with his runs and things like that. You definitely have to tip your hat off to the young guy."
On Monday, offensive coordinator Greg Olson indicated the Bucs plan to use Blount and Williams as their primary running back rotation. But he was quick to note that Williams will not be limited to third-down duty.
Williams had 12 yards on four carries Sunday but is averaging 2.5 yards per carry this season. He led the Bucs with eight catches for 34 yards, including the winning 1-yard touchdown from quarterback Josh Freeman with 10 seconds left in the game.
"When you see the game as you watch (Blount), we've always talked about it being a big man's game, and he's obviously a big person, and he showed it (Sunday)," Olson said. "He's got tremendous strength and power in his running game. So we were excited in what we saw. ... We're excited about his first outing, and we think he'll get better as we go along, so there's no reason not to believe he will be a guy who will continue to carry the ball for us.
"We feel good with LeGarrette Blount in his progression and how he's moving forward. We feel good about his growth as a player. We feel good about Cadillac Williams, and we feel good about Earnest Graham when he's healthy. We've got three guys there, and we're still working with (Kregg) Lumpkin as well to get him up to speed."
Blount, an undrafted rookie from Oregon, was claimed off waivers from the Titans at the start of the season. The Bucs had been reluctant to play Blount until he had a chance to become more versed in the team's protection schemes.
Williams has excelled in that area, but Olson said the Bucs still value him as a ballcarrier.
"To me, he's a very good running back," Olson said of Williams. "Different style, obviously, than LeGarrette Blount. He does some different things. He didn't have great looks (Sunday) in the run game. He was instrumental in the end in the two-minute drive. He had six touches there in that last drive, including the game-winning catch. So obviously, he brings a lot of value to our football team, not only as a third-down back because of his ability to protect, but he's still a good running back in this league, and we still will count on him to help us moving forward."
Williams said he wasn't too concerned about Blount reducing his playing time.
"To be honest with you, I don't," Williams said. "I'm healthy, and I remember times where I was around here and I couldn't play or whatever. I'm healthy and spirits are high. I'm just here to play football, and whatever happens, happens. I just know on Sundays that I'm going to ... give it my all.
"This league is going more to a two-back rotation, which is cool. Who knows? We'll see."