Running back LeGarrette Blount has a 'tons of ability,' according to Bucs coach Greg Schiano. But his inability to protect the football could force the team to look elsewhere for ball carriers.
Blount fumbled five times last season, losing three.
"I think LeGarrette has tons of ability,'' Schiano said Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings. "No one who touches the football will get touches if they don't protect the football. That is one of our core covenants. The ball. It's so important, they named the game after it. So, we make a big deal about that thing.''
Schiano said repeatedly that he wants the Bucs to run the football and use play action passes to take shots downfield. He credited running back Ray Rice with spearheading the turnaround at Rutgers and described the Ravens running back as a 'bell cow.'
The Bucs, who own the No. 5 overall pick, may have an opportunity to draft Alabama running back Trent Richardson, whom Schiano described as 'a special talent.'
By comparison, one of Richardson's strengths is ball security. Richardson lost only one fumble in 614 career touches. In fact, that turnover came in the sixth game of his freshman season, which means he went 550 touches without a fumble.
"I've studied a lot of tape on him, he's a very talented guy,'' Schiano said of Richardson. "I met him briefly, I look forward to spending more quality time with him here before the draft. You can't argue with production. One of the things I think you really have to look at, it doesn't guarantee anything, but when you're looking at that running back making the jump from high school to college or college to the National Football League, one of the real barometers is production. Was he able to be consistently productive and Trent has done it in what's arguably the toughest league in college football. So he's a special talent.''
Blount's value depends on whether or not the Bucs bring in another RB this offseason. If they draft Trent Richardson, it sounds like Blount will be relegated to backup duty.