Just two days after he was cut by the Tennessee Titans, running back LeGarrette Blount was claimed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers off waivers. Blount practiced with the team for the first time Tuesday.
In college at Oregon, Blount was suspended for punching a Boise State player in the 2009 season opener. He was involved in another fight in Titans camp when he punched teammate Eric Bakhtiari, though the incident was dismissed by Titans head coach Jeff Fisher as a non-issue.
Much like fourth-round draft pick Mike Williams, Blount comes with leftover character concerns from college, which led to him being an undrafted free agent in 2010. In his time with the Buccaneers, Williams has excelled not only on the field, but has avoided negative attention and emerged as the team’s No. 1 receiver.
“We did the same study that we did on Mike Williams on Blount,” head coach Raheem Morris said.
Blount spoke to Morris on the phone from Jeff Fisher’s office before coming to Tampa, a conversation in which Fisher gave Morris his full endorsement on claiming Blount.
“If you talk to a guy I respect as much as Jeff Fisher,” said Morris, “and hear from Jeff Fisher about the quality of a young man, character of a young man, and all the stuff he can do for you and all the positives from a coach that a lot of my peers and myself respect as much as I do, it makes the transition a lot easier when you do it.
“This young man went to go see his head coach Jeff Fisher and called me from his office. And we had a conversation from his office and it was one of those things that make you feel great about it, and about your decision to feel comfortable looking past an issue he had in the past.
“What Jeff said to me was enough for my liking,” added Morris.
Blount ran for 118 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries for an average of 3.8 yards per carry this preseason with the Titans.
The Buccaneers recently released running back Derrick Ward, and on the same day they claimed Blount, they also claimed former Packers running back Kregg Lumpkin.
“He’s a talented, big back,” Morris said of Lumpkin. “He provides some of that versatility like an Earnest Graham where he can potentially play some fullback stuff or at least learn it. He’s a big, pounding back at the end of a game. For us, the exciting part is to fill that role, that other banger besides Cadillac if you want to take some hits off of Earnest Graham and things of that nature.”
While Graham will be the team’s No. 1 full back to start the season, Kareem Huggins will join Williams and his two new running mates in the backfield.
The Buccaneers open their season hosting the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT.
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