LeGarrette Blount, Doug Martin vie for Bucs RB spot


Training camp is here. They allow tackling there and everything. Around the League will count down the top 30 position battles to watch throughout the preseason.

No. 7: Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB: LeGarrette Blount vs. Doug Martin

Top 30 training camp position battles

No. 30: Seahawks running backs
No. 29: Packers No. 3 receiver
No. 28: Broncos backup running back
No. 27: Bengals cornerbacks
No. 26: Raiders backup quarterback
No. 25: Cardinals receiver
No. 24: Jets right tackle
No. 23: Jets linebacker
No. 22: Redskins running back
No. 21: Giants No. 3 receiver
No. 20: Patriots receiver
No. 19: Colts tight end
No. 18: Rams receivers
No. 17: Jaguars quarterbacks
No. 16: Bears wide receivers
No. 15: NFL safety battles
No. 14: Jaguars No. 2 receiver
No. 13: Bears left tackle
No. 12: Randy Moss vs. Father time
No. 11: Lions receivers
No. 10: Cardinals running back
No. 9: Ravens pass rusher
No. 8: Dolphins quarterback
No. 7: Buccaneers running back
No. 6: Steelers defensive end
No. 5: Dolphins wide receiver
No. 4: Cardinals quarterback
No. 3: The Oakland Raiders
No. 2: Titans quarterback
No. 1: Seahawks quarterback

• When the Bucs drafted Martin with the No. 31 overall draft pick, the assumption was Blount's days as feature back in Tampa Bay were numbered. But Blount took the majority of first-team reps during OTAs and minicamp. That obviously can change in training camp, but let's not assume Blount's been put out to pasture here.

• That said, Martin will be a worthy challenger for the starting job. He has speed, quickness and the strength to pick up tough yards. He adds another dimension to the offense with his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Quite simply, he's a more well-rounded player than Blount and he's getting paid first-round money.

• Blount needs to prove he can be a consistent professional. Under Raheem Morris, he reportedly needed a team-issued car service to get to Bucs facilities on time and was known to catch up on sleep in team meetings. That simply won't fly under Greg Schiano. On the plus side, Schiano believes Blount's issues were "blown out of proportion a little bit" and said the running back's work ethic has been "great" since he took over as coach.

• Better work habits or not, the competition will end quickly if Blount puts the ball on the ground. Blount fumbled nine times in his first two NFL seasons, and Schiano won't have any patience for a running back who turns the ball over. Blount has adopted the "high and tight" approach that once saved Tiki Barber's career. It better work.

Projected winner: It's widely assumed this is Martin's job to lose, but I believe Blount is the Week 1 starter. That's not to say Martin won't have a substantial role, but don't be surprised if Schiano treats Blount as something of a redemption project.