Erik Lorig becoming surprise player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers approached the 2010 NFL draft there was a need at defensive end. Despite having three picks in the top 42 no defensive end was selected until their final pick, a player from Stanford by the name of Erik Lorig.

I remember vividly when they picked him that ESPN reporter Adam Schefter said that he could be a surprise player for the Buccaneers. With almost no real production at defensive end it left many fans including myself questioning why he was picked.

Well in 2010 when former fullback Earnest Graham went down with an injury, Lorig switched over to the offensive side of the ball and learned the fullback position. Lorig was a former tight end and was actually recruited to and played tight end for his first two years at Stanford.

He caught on pretty quick to the position and helped pave the way for LeGarrette Blount on the way to his 1,000 yard season. Still there was a lot for him to learn and really hone in on what being a fullback was.

In 2011, the entire Buccaneer team took a step backwards. A combination of poor run blocking  and a predictable offense didn’t help either. When Lorig and Blount were in the backfield together it just didn’t work out. The Buccaneers struggled to establish a run game, and with the offense always playing catch up there just wasn’t a place for Lorig on the field.

All of that has changed this year with coach Greg Schiano‘s philosophy on the offensive side on the ball. Not only has new offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan done a great job implementing a power running style that has Lorig going down-hill as a lead blocker, he’s involved him in the passing game as well to keep defenses honest.

This year he’s already doubled the production of his first two years in the league in just seven games. This past week against the Minnesota Vikings he had, in my opinion, his best game yet as a pro. He was an enforcer in paving the way for Doug Martin to have over 250 yards of total offense. He also caught his first touchdown in his career.

With the way that the Buccaneers have been moving the ball, we can’t forget about the lesser known players on this team. Lorig is a guy that probably wont have his name filling the stat sheets, but will be a crucial part in the offenses success as the season goes on.

Follow Ryan Terrana on twitter @RyanTerrana


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