Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bucs RB Blount cleared by specialist to return to practice
TAMPA - When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ran onto the practice fields on Wednesday to begin preparing for Sunday's game against the Super Bowl champion New York Giants, running back LeGarrette Blount wasn't with them. Blount will be back on the field with teammates on Thursday. A specialist in the Charlotte, N.C., area cleared Blount for a return to duty late Wednesday after determining Blount suffered a stinger when he went down after a second-quarter play Sunday. "He's fine,'' Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said."He felt a stinger and it just made us nervous, the way he felt. That's part of the reason why you saw him (shaking his arms as he came off the field), because he lost some strength.'' Mystery had surrounded the former 1,000-yard rusher after coach Greg Schiano said on Monday he wasn't sure what was "ailing'' Blount, who did not return to Sunday's 16-10 victory against Carolina despite being cleared to by team doctors after what was thought to be a leg injury. Blount's failure to return sparked speculation suggesting he might have refused to play because he was unhappy with his role as the backup to rookie starter Doug Martin. Schiano denied that was part of the equation. "He is a competitor and when Doug (Martin) assumed the position of the No. 1 back, (Blount) wasn't jumping up and down saying, 'Good for him,' '' Schiano said. "But there have not been any problems with him.'' Blount played at the start of the Bucs' third offensive series Sunday and gained 8 yards on three runs and 2 yards on a reception in which he made one of his trademark leaps over a would-be tackler. Blount did not return to the game because game "circumstances'' failed to dictate a need for him, Dominik said. Schiano has made it clear, however, Blount's role is not to spell Martin but to complement him. "I said earlier that the plan is to play them off each other,'' Schiano said Wednesday, prior to Blount's being cleared to return to practice. "Now we have to wait and see. That plan might be altered and I'm disappointed about that. But let's see. Let's not put the cart before the horse."
[email protected] (813) 259-7979 Twitter: RCummingsTrib