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Coaching tip for the Buccaneers

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have given their players the rest of the week off because they’re on a bye. Let’s hope coach Raheem Morris and offensive coordinator Greg Olson ordered running back LeGarrette Blount to study his pass protections really hard while he’s off.

Blount’s been out with a knee injury the past two games, but all indications are that he’ll be ready to play after the bye. That’s very good news because backup Earnest Graham suffered a season-ending injury Sunday.

Even before Blount’s injury, the Bucs were using him in a limited way. On most passing situations, they took Blount out. That’s because the Bucs have been hesitant to trust Blount as a pass-blocker. They generally used Graham in those situations.

Kregg Lumpkin could end up simply picking up Graham’s role. But it might help the Tampa Bay passing game tremendously if the Bucs feel comfortable in keeping Blount on the field.

The Bucs have been horrible on play-action passes. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Josh Freeman ranks No. 33 in the league with a 49 percent completion rate on play-action throws. Only Jacksonville rookie Blaine Gabbert (29 percent) ranks below Freeman.

On play-action passes, Freeman has completed 24 of 49 attempts for 347 yards with two touchdowns and five interceptions.

There’s no doubt some of the blame rests on Freeman, who hasn’t been as sharp as he was last season. But I’m thinking there’s another issue involved when it comes to the play-action game.

If a defense saw Graham on the field, the reaction probably was that the Bucs weren’t going to run. It will be the same with Lumpkin.

If the Bucs actually could put Blount on the field all the time, opposing defenses might not have such a strong clue what’s coming at them.