Blount impressive in Buccaneer debut
Anwar Richardson, The Tampa Tribune, published 27 September 2010|
Rookie running LeGarrette Blount made a strong case to receive more playing time this season during his team's 38-13 loss to Pittsburgh at Raymond James Stadium.
Blount had six carries for 27 yards and one touchdown during his NFL debut, but his most impressive statistic was averaging 4.5 yards per carry.
Prior to Sunday's game, Bucs RB Cadillac Williams averaged 2.5 yards per carry and had 2.2 against Pittsburgh. Blount (6-foot and 247 pounds) provided the Bucs with a power runner who gained yards after an initial hit.
"He's a big, physical running back," Bucs QB Josh Freeman said. "I don't think people realize quite how big he is and how physical he is. There is one play I handed it off, went around on my boot, turned around and I saw (James)Harrison on a crash course on Blount. I was like, 'Oh, this is going to be ugly,' but he ran into him and bounced off and I was like, 'Man, you don't really see that that often.'
"Blount definitely provided a spark for us. He came in, was hitting the holes hard, breaking tackles. It was good to see."
Blount was happy to see the end zone in the fourth quarter after scoring on a 1-yard run, but not pleased with the final outcome. We got in goal line, they got in goal line, and we had to man up and put some points on the board," Blount said. "I tried my best to do that and I was successful. I am comfortable with most of (the offense). It's still a work in progress. For the most part, I'm getting everything."
There is a possibility Blount could receive more playing time in the future. Williams rushed six times for 13 yards against Pittsburgh, while backup RB Kareem Huggins has been slowed by a groin injury. Blount could be implemented into Tampa Bay's offense when it travels to Cincinnati after the bye week and coach Raheem Morris is optimistic his running back will progress.
"You've got to go back and look at tape, but LeGarrette Blount went out there and ran hard, he was physical and did some things I wanted him to be able to do," Morris said. "It could have been a different outcome if we had gotten some early points there and been able to use him in use that plan that I formatted, but again, when you play a good team, it doesn't always go how you plan."
When he wasn't attending to his aches and pains, Freeman thought about the ones that got away. Tampa Bay's second-year QB lamented lost opportunities following Sunday's 38-13 loss to Pittsburgh.
"They dominated us on the scoreboard, but at the same time I feel like our team's mentality waking away is that we could've played with those guys,'' said Freeman, who averaged only 5.9 yards on his 31 pass attempts. "I feel like we left yardage on the field.''
Facing one of the NFL's most bruising defenses, Freeman impressed the unbeaten Steelers with his poise.
"I think he's got a great future,'' said Pittsburgh S Troy Polamalu. "He could be a star in this league.''
Freeman was sacked three times and was forced to scramble six times for 15 yards.
"Our defense was able to force Freeman out of the pocket quite a bit,'' said ILB James Farrior. "He's a young, talented kid and I thought he did a good job today of holding things together.''
As expected, members of Steeler Nation turned out in force Sunday at Raymond James Stadium, where black and gold filled a good portion of the stands.
"It's kind of frustrating to look up in the seats and see more Steeler fans than Buc fans in our building,'' said Tampa Bay LB Geno Hayes. "That's amazing.''
While some Steeler supporters made the long trek from Pittsburgh, Sunday's big turnout for the visitors can also be attributed to the large numbers of former Pennsylvania residents transplanted to the Bay area.
"Let's face it, everyone here is from somewhere else,'' said Bucs C Jeff Faine. "I wasn't necessarily surprised today.''
Polamalu has grown used to the boost on the road. "We get so much support everywhere we go,'' Polamalu said. The Bucs announced paid attendance of 61,036. According to the Tampa Sports Authority, actual attendance was 57,616.