LeGarrette Blount wants bigger role

Tampa Bay’s LeGarrette Blount said Tuesday he’s ready to be an every-down back. We’ll start to find out Sunday if he’s right.

With Earnest Graham out for the rest of the season with injuries, the Bucs are going to have to do some things differently on offense. When Graham was healthy, the Bucs were using Blount in running situations and Graham on passing downs.

Kregg Lumpkin now becomes the top backup behind Blount, who missed the last two games with a knee injury. Lumpkin could step into Graham’s role, but Blount made it sound like that’s not going to happen Sunday against New Orleans.

“I know I’m going to play third downs in this game,’’ Blount said. “I probably won’t play all of them but I know I’ll play quite a few of them. I’ve shown that I know the protections and that I know the routes and that I can catch the ball so that’s going to help us out tremendously. And it’s going to help me stay in the game a little longer and play a lot more snaps.’’

If Blount really does know his protections and the coaching staff is comfortable using him as a blocker on passing downs, that could give Tampa Bay’s offense a big lift.

Keeping Blount on the field all -- or most of -- the time could cause more headaches for defenses. The Bucs had been pretty predictable when they were using Blount and Graham in tandem. If Blount wasn’t on the field, chances were pretty good the Bucs were planning to pass.

That hurt the Bucs on play-action passes because defenses weren’t getting fooled. Quarterback Josh Freeman has completed 24 of 49 (49 percent) play-action pass attempts for 347 yards with two touchdowns and five interceptions.