The Buccaneers running game, other than a breakout performance in Week 2 against the Rams, has been lackluster so far in 2014.
Starter Doug Martin is averaging just 2.9 yards a carry, while failing to eclipse the 50-yard mark in each of the five games he’s played. And while third-year pro Bobby Rainey logged the team’s best rushing performance with 144 yards against St Louis earlier this year he, too, has failed to recapture his magic. Through the next four games, Rainey’s average dipped to 3.2 yards per carry and he also fumbled three times.
It’s hard to be optimistic about a 1-6 team, but the Buccaneers offense may finally get a needed shot of energy this Sunday. Rookie running back Charles Sims is likely to return to the team’s active roster in time to face the Cleveland Browns.
“This is the first opportunity we’ve had since we’ve been back to really see him go and to what extent or percentage he’s at [with his injury],” said quarterback coach and interim offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo on Wednesday. “We’re excited to have Charles back out there, absolutely.
“He’s got some traits that we’re really excited about. I haven’t seen [a lot], obviously. We saw him in training camp for the short time that we had him.”
Sims suffered an ankle injury during preseason that required surgery and landed him on the injured reserve with designation for return. Coincidentally, Doug Martin is currently nursing an ankle ailment that has kept him out of practice this week. While Lovie Smith remains hopeful that Martin will be ready by Sunday, he’s encouraged about adding the 2014 third-round pick to the mix.
“He’ll have a chance,” Smith said at his press conference. “It’s two weeks now that we’ve had to see him on the field and he’s getting better and better. [We] got a good look at him today. That quickness and all that we liked when we drafted him, we’re starting to see that. We miss having him out there. We’re a little banged up at the running back position now, too, so we’ll see how the week plays out.”
During open locker room on Thursday, Sims spoke to members of the media and expressed his excitement to finally get back on the field.
“It just felt great just to be out there with the pads on,” he said. “It’s been two months since I’ve been out there, so I was just excited to go out there. I have fresh legs. They’re fresh. I just want to get out there and compete now.”
Whether or not Sims is able to go on Sunday, the extent at which he’ll play coming off a serious injury is largely unknown. But the Houston native claims he’s prepared for whatever happens Sunday.
“I just do whatever I’m asked to do,” Sims said. “Whether it’s making plays or blocking … whatever I’m asked to do.
“It’s been hard. I’m just happy to get out there with those guys and compete.”
Some questioned Tampa Bay when they drafted the University of West Virginia product so early last May. Many assumed he would just be a backup to Martin, or at best a third-down option. But the coaching staff clearly values him as a key part of the offense and continue to rave about his potential.
“He’s big, physical, fast and can catch the ball,” Arroyo said. “He runs hard and for such a big guy, he’s elusive, strong, fast and powerful. He catches the ball well. Like I said, he’s smart and has a lot of really good traits that we’re excited to see develop. Just having him out there a little bit more at a time is going to be great.”
As Doug Martin continues to struggle with regaining his 2012 momentum, it will be interesting to see if and how Charles Sims can provide the Buccaneers with a more dynamic offense moving forward. One thing for sure is that Smith and Arroyo believe he has a bright future ahead.
“When he’s ready to go he’ll give us a spark,” Smith said. “I feel pretty confident saying that.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’ve actually watched the games you’d know it’s not Martin that is the issue, it’s the play calling and the terrible non-blocking.
Here’s a typical first down from the 1st to the 3rd quarter.
Run up the middle.
Tah dah, I just unlocked the entire Bucs offensive gameplan. The other teams are stacking the line on first down because the Bucs just run up the middle until they’re down by 21 or more points, then they’ll just be in shotgun on first down – wouldn’t want to play action pass and perhaps throw off the defense.
The offensive play calling has been dismal, its like we’re watching Ray Perkins, Mike Shula, Clyde Christensen, Greg Olson all over again.
Bucs 1987: Run left, run right, throw deep, punt.
Bucs 1999: Run left, run right, throw medium, punt.
Bucs 2014: Run middle, throw short, throw short, punt.
I would be surprised if Sims is activated to play this weekend; maybe by next weekend. Go Bucs
Don’t get your hopes up….this isn’t AP suiting up for us behind an even average line…it’s a third round pick (that we reached a bit for because our staff fell in love with his tape) behind the worst line in the league….different guy, same result…
That sums it up pretty well cbrady2k. That’s what I see from my perch 23 rows up too. I don’t disagree that Martin seems to be pressing and maybe doesn’t have that “make you miss” quick twitch ability of Rainey; but Dietrich-Smith in particular is getting blown up. Our backs are tackled as soon as they get the hand-off. Maybe if they got the ball deeper in the backfield, instead of the inside hand-off so close to the LOS they could use their vision to find an opening. I watched Murray have huge holes created by the Dallas front to run through that I sure don’t see here.
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