TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — It might be awhile before LeGarrette Blount or rookie Doug Martin is declared the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ starting tailback.
Coach Greg Schiano doesn’t see any urgency on that front.
“I’m not going to make it happen,” Schiano said Saturday. “If I feel it should go one way and the staff feels that way, I’ll do it. Otherwise they’re two good backs and a lot of teams do that now, in this day and age.”
Developing a running game is a top priority for the new head coach of a team that ran the ball fewer than 22 times per game last season, the least of any NFL team.
The Bucs ran 25 times in the first half of their 20-7 win over the Dolphins on Friday night in the preseason opener for both teams, with Blount and Martin each getting seven carries and a touchdown.
“It was good. Everything that we’ve practiced is coming to life,” said Blount, Tampa Bay’s leading rusher in each of the last two seasons. “We scored on our first two drives, and that’s what you always plan to do.”
The Bucs traded into the first round to draft Martin, a quick and compact running back out of Boise State. That sent a message to Blount, who came to camp with his job on the line after losing five fumbles last season and experiencing a big dropoff from his 1,007-yard performance of 2010.
Schiano sent a message in the spring about the kind of offense he intends to run, first by drafting Martin and then by signing All-Pro guard Carl Nicks to a five-year contract. To the coach, establishing the ground game is a higher priority than deciding who will carry the football.
“No matter what the decision is, they’ve both shown already that they’re going to help us, that they’re both going to run the ball,” Schiano said. “I think it’s going to be a fluid situation until someone kind of distinguishes himself as deserving more touches. But I can’t tell you how it’s going to go right now. I don’t know.”
NOTES: Rookie OL Mike VanDerMeulen was the only injury casualty Friday night. He had an MRI taken on his left leg. … Safety Mark Barron, the first of the Bucs’ two first-round draft picks, was held out of the Miami game because of a minor toe injury. Schiano expects him to play next Friday against Tennessee.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.