Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bucs' Blount not afraid to seek perfection
TAMPA - Tampa Bay Buccaneers LeGarrette Blount is not afraid to admit the truth. "I'm not the perfect player," Blount said. "I'm working to get as close to perfection as possible." There were times when Blount ran over defenders in spectacular fashion last season. He is the same running back who could fail to score on the goal line. Blount leaped over defenders like an Olympic hurdler. He also fumbled when his team needed him the most. Blount (6-foot and 247 pounds) rushed for 1,007 rushing yards and six touchdowns last season. He also struggled to learn pass protections, like most rookies, and could not be trusted to block for franchise quarterback Josh Freeman.While all those things about Blount are true, he is working hard during training camp to develop the trust of his coaches this season. "As far as football goes, my first priority is to become an every down back," Blount said. "That's what I'm working towards and that's what I'm going to be and that's what I'm working toward the hardest." Blount was claimed off waivers by Tampa Bay on September 6 last season after Tennessee released him. He was inactive in three out of five games to start the season. Blount saw more action in week six against St. Louis, rushing 11 times for 72 yards. The following week, Blount rushed 22 times for 120 yards and two touchdowns against Arizona, and his athleticism was evident. However, Blount was still learning the playbook and often replaced by Cadillac Williams on passing downs. Opponents knew when Blount was in the game, Tampa Bay would run. When Williams was in, a pass was inevitable. "We're much more comfortable, obviously, right now than we were a year ago when he was here. Even five games into it," Bucs offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. "The first thing we asked him as he reported to the building was how are you doing on your protections. He gave us a big smile and said, 'Coach, I'm fine. I'm good.' "We'll put him in there (passing situations). I think it's more a matter of want-to and I think he wants to be that guy who plays a lot more. He knows he can't just be going in there on running downs." Blount also knows he has to be someone his team can rely upon, especially if the Bucs do not re-sign Williams, who is currently an unrestricted free agent. Last season, Blount fumbled four times and the team shied away from him in key situations. In addition, Tampa Bay faced fourth-and-1 on Atlanta's 2-yard line with 2:44 remaining in a second meeting last years. The Bucs trailed 27-21 and had a chance to tie. Blount received the handoff and could have followed fullback Roy Miller, who had cleared a path to the end zone. Instead, Blount veered right and ran into Falcons free safety Thomas DeCoud, who tackled him. "I just got to keep working hard," Blount said. "Put God first and do everything you can do to improve from one year to the next." Bucs fullback Earnest Graham has faith Blount will be an improved player this year. Graham has worked with Blount this offseason to help him perfect the playbook. Blount also studied a lot of his own, plus has been staying late with Bucs running backs coach Steve Logan each day to improve. "Blount is just a natural athlete," Graham said. "I don't people realize how great of an athlete he is, but he's awesome. He has footwork at that size and speed and he's a very smooth runner. "For him, it's just understanding the game and the mental part of it. Once he becomes a complete player and becomes a factor in the passing game, he will be an all-around threat. It's fascinating. I'm intrigued to see how this thing develops with him." Blount's goal is to become a more reliable running back for Tampa Bay this season. And that is the truth. "LeGarrette definitely wants to do that," Bucs coach Raheem Morris said. "He wants to strive to be that every down, every play guy, like anyone else on our football team, but he's doing a nice job of picking up his role. "He's doing a nice job of doing whatever it takes to help his team win and that's probably the important concept of it all."