The fullback, whose role in the running game has been reduced, says he's ready to step up in the starting tailback's absence.
By ROGER MILLS
© St. Petersburg Times,
published October 2, 2001
|Dunn may miss a month
TAMPA -- Last Nov. 19, Pro Bowl fullback Mike Alstott sustained a knee injury that virtually kept him out of the next four games.
Teammate Warrick Dunn exploded for 520 yards during that span and solidified his role as the team's primary ballcarrier.
After two games, fullback Mike Alstott, who once shared the carries evenly with Dunn, has eight.
Now, the roles are reversed. With Dunn out for three to four weeks, Alstott gets his chance to earn more carries, even when Dunn returns.
"We'll see how it goes throughout the week, and whatever the game plan is we'll stick with it," Alstott said. "I'm fine. I've played every play since I came back. Been in on every play and feel good.
"It's a situation where all the backs have to really step up. Whatever the situation is at tailback, we have to take the load off as far as carrying the ball. All the running backs have to step up to this point."
The Bucs have stuck to their pledge to make Dunn the featured back. After two games, Alstott, who once shared the carries evenly with Dunn, has eight. Dunn has 33.
"Of course, the opportunity to go out there and make plays and make things happen and move the ball down the field is always exciting," said Alstott, who has 14 total touches. "If you're the ballcarrier you have to get in that rhythm. You just can't get one or two carries in the first quarter and then three or four. You like to get in that rhythm and get going and establish (yourself) during the game.
"The last two regular-season games, being in the mix of the game, I am comfortable. I'm progressing and feeling better and doing some good things on the field. I am getting a lot of reps."
Offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said that although the Bucs plan to use Aaron Stecker and Rabih Abdullah from the tailback spot, Alstott's reps are likely to increase significantly.
"I think his carries will certainly go up, and he will have to pick up a large part of the load," Christensen said. "Not too much (will change). He has a couple of runs that he's more comfortable with and Warrick has a couple he's more comfortable with, but the base package won't change."
Alstott said that though he has been primarily blocking for Dunn, the experience has given him a chance to see how holes develop.
"I'm pretty much the lead guy in there and see everything developing," he said. "As the lead blocker you have to read the defense and read everything in front of you as far as the play setting up. It's exciting with our offensive line. We have a great offensive line and with our passing attack, the way it's going on, there's going to be a lot of opportunities for big runs."
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