Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Football is almost here! Watching the Buccaneers rushing offense in 2017 was very difficult. It was like watching paint dry at times.
Actually, watching paint dry may have been more exciting. Former Tampa Bya Buccaneer Doug Martin, started the season off with a 4 game suspension and just never returned to his 2015 form. This year during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ training camp, I will be keeping my eyes on the running backs as it will be vital to the Buccaneers offense.
Barber was an undrafted free agent three years ago. Barber left Auburn early to provide for his family. Barber emerged as the starting running back late in the season last year and led the team in rushing with 423 yards on 108 carries which averaged 3.9 yards per carry.
When Barber was the starter the last few games of the season, the offense seemed to click. Barber is a bigger back, but runs with force. Barber runs north and south instead of dancing around and has a knack for falling forward to gain more yards.
Going into camp, Barber will be the starter and it could be his job to lose. The biggest thing I want to see Barber improve on is pass protection as he still struggled with it at times last season. The biggest way to see more time on the bench is repeatedly missing blocks.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted Jones in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Jones has elite speed which has been missing from the running back group the last few years. Kyle Brandt from Good Morning Football said “there are only about five running backs that can take the ball 80 yards and the Bucs have one of them”.
During mini camp and OTAs, Jones has shown flashes of being impressive. Jones wasn’t used as a pass catcher as much during his time at USC, but do not let that fool you as his tape shows that he can catch the ball and make defenders miss. I expect Jones to be heavily involved in the screen game. I do not think he will start right away unless he has a strong training camp and can show that he can pass protect consistently.
Two years ago Rodgers was signed as one of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers free agent signings. In 2016, Rodgers ran the ball well when he had the opportunity to start. In 2017 he had some strong runs early in the season, but soon after he sizzled out as did most of the Buccaneers running backs.
Rodgers is set to make 1.6 million dollars this season if he can stay on the roster. Some pundits have said that Rodgers job is in jeopardy. I can understand the reasoning, but I would be very surprised if he doesn’t make the 53 man roster. His role as a first or second down back is unlikely and Dirk Koetter earlier in the off-season had said Rodgers can play the role of the third down back.
Charles “Chuck” Sims
Sims was a free agent this off season and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers brought him back the day of the draft on a one year deal at veteran league minimum. The fact that no other team signed him says all you need to know about Sims. He is a decent pass protector, but when it comes to the running aspect of his game, he just isn’t that good.
It was frustrating at times when Sims would come in on third down and most of the time they passed the ball to him. Rarely would he run the ball maybe every once in awhile he would have a big run. At this point I don’t see Sims improving as a runner, but you never know. This may be his last chance in the NFL so he could make the most of it.
The Other Backs
The other two running backs on the roster are Shaun Wilson from Duke and Dalton Crossan. I believe that Wilson is going to surprise a lot of fans when he starts playing in the pre-season games. He has the ability to play on special teams as kick returner/punt returner and if he does well, that could be his ticket to making the team.
Crossan was signed by the Indianapolis Colts in 2017.
Making the Cut
The Buccaneers usually keep four running backs on the 53 man roster so it will be an interesting battle to see who gets the third or fourth spot on the roster.
My prediction is that Barber, Jones, Rodgers and Wilson will be the four running backs that make the 53 man roster.
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Christian Worthen has been a fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 22 years. He currently is a contributor/writer for Full Press Coverage Tampa Bay Buccaneers. To see more of his work or the work by Full Press Coverage follow @FPC_Buccanners on Twitter.