Yardbarker Horiz

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Buccaneers On Course To Start Season With New Backfield

With the third preseason game in the books, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers appear to have settled on a completely new running back tandem to start 2011.

The 2010 season started with Cadillac Williams at tailback and Earnest Graham at fullback.  With Cadillac now with the Rams, the tailback job has fallen to 2010 undrafted free agent LeGarrette Blount.  And starting at fullback is the last player selected by the Buccaneers in the 2010 draft, Erik Lorig, a converted tight end.  In fact, Blount and Lorig were both inactive for the first game of 2010.

These are crazy days in Tampa.  With 75% of the roster having less than four years of experience, it just gets weird sometimes.

The writing was on the wall for Cadillac after Blount did not start the first three games of the season yet still managed to gather over 1,000 yards to lead all rookies last season.  Williams, who was also a dependable pass catcher, may have outlasted his value for the Buccaneers opting instead to sign a one-year contract with the Saint Louis Rams.

Lorig, on the other hand, has come out of nowhere to unseat the granddaddy of the Bucs backfield, the venerable Earnest Graham.  Graham will play, and play plenty, this season for Tampa Bay -- I do not doubt this for a moment.  But Lorig, who also spent practice time last season at tight end and defensive end, continues to impress with his 6'4", 275 lb frame (similar to 2011 2nd round pick DE Da'Quan Bowers).  This, in a nutshell, is the tradeoff the Buccaneers are making:  experience for power.

Cadillac Williams (5'11", 217 lbs) vs. LeGarette Blount (6'0", 247 lbs)
Earnest Graham (5'9", 225 lbs) vs. Erik Lorig (6'4", 275 lbs)

That's an increase of 80 pounds of running back, plus additional height at both positions (following a notable offensive trend of the past two years). GM Mark Dominik and Head Coach Raheem Morris have talked at great length about becoming a bigger, more powerful running team.

Apparently, the next step towards that goal has been taken.

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