New Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano sent a clear message to running back LeGarrette Blount today: Protect the football or you won't play.
Pat Yasinskas of ESPN reports that Schiano praised the running back's abilities but also put him on notice that his starting job could be in jeopardy unless Blount embraces the team's new focus on ball security. "I think LeGarrette has tons of ability," Schiano said. "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. We make a big deal about it."
Blount rushed for 781 yards and five touchdowns last season but fumbled five times and lost three of them in the team's disastrous 4-12 season that led to the firing of coach Raheem Morris and hiring of Schiano.
Schiano stated that he wants a "bell-cow back" that he can feed the ball to all the time, citing his use of Ray Rice while he was the head coach at Rutgers. Schiano was asked about Alabama running back Trent Richardson, a possibility for the Bucs with the No. 5 overall selection. Richardson fumbled just once in 614 career touches with the Crimson Tide. Asked if Richardson could be a "bell-cow back", Schiano stated,"He could be. He's done it in what is arguably the toughest league in college football.