LeGarrette Blount and Doug Martin have played, essentially, one quarter of live football together. After the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' encouraging preseason opener in Miami on Friday night, Blount and Martin have a combined 14 carries for 51 yards and two touchdowns, plus two catches for 10 yards.
That's a fine start, as was the Bucs' 20-7 victory over the Dolphins overall, but so far it's just that: a start. Everyone in the NFL knows not to get too carried away over a single preseason game.
And yet…and yet there was a definite sense of promise in Tampa Bay's first two drives on Friday night, particularly when it came to the running game. Greg Schiano's Buccaneers intend to rely on the running game this fall, as they did on 14 of their first 22 snaps against the Dolphins. They believe Blount, last year's starter, and Martin, a 2012 first-round pick, can co-exist and, more than that, thrive in the same backfield.
And the best part is, the backs believe it, too.
After Friday's game, Blount made it clear how high his expectations are for the Bucs' shared backfield this year. They are, in fact, about as high as they can get.
"We can definitely be the best duo in the league," said Blount. "With the schemes that we're running, with the offensive line that we have, with the blocking, with the complement that he has for my game and the complement I have for his, I think we're going to be a really good pair. We have a chance to be the best backfield in the league, without a doubt."
For Blount, that's a matter of confidence not only in himself and his running mate, but in the big men up front driving the offense. The Bucs have a pair of Pro Bowl guards in Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph in the middle of the line, and they think highly of center Jeff Zuttah and tackles Donald Penn (currently injured) and Jeremy Trueblood, as well. That front line has simplified the formula, which is a large part of the reason Blount is so confident in what he and Martin can do in 2012.
"They do everything for me," said Blount. "The line does everything for me. There's not really much I had to work on besides getting the ball and running wherever they are. They're going to work – we've got Carl Nicks and Davin and all those guys on the front line. It's just good old-fashioned running."