Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bucs notes: Blount back and ready to play
TAMPA - Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB LeGarrette Blount returned to practice Thursday, declaring himself relieved doctors cleared him to play after he suffered a stinger in the Week 1 victory against Carolina. Blount spent Wednesday in Charlotte, N.C, visiting a specialist to diagnose the "sharp pain'' he felt after playing sparingly in the season opener. "I made a little trip, got cleared to play and everything's all good,'' said Blount, a former 1,000-yard rusher who now backs up rookie Doug Martin. "It was just a little sharp pain here and there, and they made sure everything's cool. I participated fully today.'' After ruling out a concussion, the Bucs sent Blount to Charlotte, where he had an MRI and visited a neck and back specialist."We didn't have contact today, but the doctors have cleared him,'' coach Greg Schiano said Thursday. "He's excited to be back, and we're excited to have him back.'' Blount entered Sunday's game for the start of the third offensive series and gained 7 yards on two carries and 2 yards on a pass reception. He didn't return after a 1-yard run into the line. "I was excited,'' Blount said of Tampa Bay's 16-10 victory. "We came out and did almost everything they told us to do. We started really fast, and we were clicking on all cylinders.'' While Blount returned to action Thursday, the Bucs have some health concerns along the offensive line heading into Sunday's road matchup against the Giants. LG Carl Nicks continues to be bothered by a jammed big toe and RT Jeremy Trueblood is dealing with a twisted ankle. Both were limited in practice Thursday, and so was CB E.J. Biggers (foot). "I play every Sunday,'' said Trueblood, who has missed four games in six seasons. "I'll find a way.'' Schiano indicated he expects Nicks to play against the Giants. Feel the rush Bucs QB Josh Freeman knows the defending Super Bowl champions present formidable challenges along the defensive line, where Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora make a living registering sacks and forcing turnovers. "They're very talented all the way across,'' Freeman said of the Giants' front four. "You know when you're dropping back in the pocket that you're not going to have a whole lot of time back there.'' A strong pass rush has played a pivotal role as the Giants won two NFL titles in the past five seasons. "You talk about teams that have one elite pass rusher, maybe two,'' Freeman said. "They have three guys that can really get after it. We're trying to limit their impact on the game. Ball security is going to be a huge point of emphasis.'' Dynamic duo The Giants were limited to 269 yards against Dallas while dropping a 24-17 decision in the NFL's season opener, but QB Eli Manning has dangerous weapons in WRs Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. That duo combined for 158 receptions, 2,728 yards and 16 TDs last year before excelling in the postseason. "That's a great tandem, and a great quarterback to go along with that tandem,'' Bucs CB Aqib Talib said. "It's a problem we've got to deal with. Manning has a great rapport with them, and he does a great job of making all his reads and getting the ball out of his hands fast. I'd say Cruz and Nicks are definitely one of the top three tandems in the league.''