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April 21, 2014 @ 8:59 am
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James Nearly 100 Percent; Eager To Pick Up Where He Left Off

Written by Mark
Cook
Mark Cook

Mark
Cook

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Bucs running back Mike James joined fellow backs Michael Smith, Jeff Demps and Doug Martin on injured reserve in 2013 after an impressive rookie campaign. The former Hurricanes multi-purpose back is ready to pick up where he left off last year and is almost 100 percent recovered from a broken left ankle.
By the end of the 2013 season, the players in the Buccaneers running backs meeting room resembled a M*A*S*H unit. When Michael Smith went down during training camp with a foot injury it was a sign of things to come, and Jeff Demps (groin) and Doug Martin (shoulder) also were placed on injured reserve by midseason. At the end of the season the two backs at the top of Tampa Bay's depth chart – Bobby Rainey and Michael Hill – weren’t even on the opening day roster.

One of those injured Buccaneers, 2013 sixth-round draft pick Mike James, is almost ready to return after a broken ankle suffered in Tampa Bay’s first win last season during the nationally-televised Monday night game against the Miami Dolphins. James rushed for 41 yards on five carries (8.2 avg.) on the Bucs' first drive before sustaining his injury.

James met with the media last week at One Buccaneer Place and deemed himself very close to returning to full health.

“My health is doing good, it’s just a compression wrap,” James said. “Standard protocol. I’ve got a good opportunity to do what I need to do to get back into the swing of things and get acclimated with everything. The healing process is going well. We’re just playing it by ear right now. (I am) very close. No timeline. There’s no time limit in life. You don’t know how things are going to go or how things are going to play out.”

In the first quarter of the Dolphins game, James was tackled in the red zone and quickly jumped back up, but then, walking back to the huddle, James collapsed on the turf.

“I got up and walked on it and walked back to the huddle,” James said. “I was playing with it and I knew something wasn’t right. When we got into the locker room I didn’t even believe it was what it was. We got x-rays and the doc told me and I started laughing. My fiancée and my sister came and they were crying. I said, ‘It’s all right. It’s the game. It’s a tough game. It’s a brutal game. We all know that when we sign up. We take it in stride.’”

While it's still early in the installation of the new Jeff Tedford offense in Tampa Bay, James and his offensive teammates are excited from the limited amount they have seen.

“It’s complex at times,” James said. “It’s simple at times. I feel like there are going to be some great plays, some great concepts, some great ways to get the ball and great ways to get into the end zone. We’re just getting into it, just getting into the swing of things. I feel like it’s going to be a real great offense.

“Where Coach Tedford was (Cal) and some different concepts. Some of the stuff is basic, and some of the stuff a lot of the guys in the league run, so we’re looking at a lot of the defenses and where they are lining up so we can draw it up on the board the way we need to.”

Part of the Tedford offense will include the running backs being used in the passing game. James feels like that is something that fits his game and skill set.

“The game is evolving into a passing game, and you definitely want to be a back that can catch the ball,” James said. “No matter what offense you’re in, you want to make sure your running back can catch the ball. That’s something I feel like I can do well and will show when the time presents itself.”

James, who before his injury ran for 295 yards on 60 attempts (4.9 avg.), was pleased with what he was able to do before being placed on injured reserve last season.

“The ability to keep the chains moving and no negative plays,” James said. “That’s something I pride myself on. I want to put the offense in the best position to score or win. Personal stats are personal stats, but they’re nothing if you’re not winning. That’s what I’m trying to do – put the offense in a positive mindset, a positive gain.

“You definitely want to be a runner that can create on his own and not only break tackles, but make guys miss. Maybe I’m not able to get out on the field and do those things, but I can visualize and do them in my mind and get mentally prepared.”

When James steps back on the field this summer he will see a number of new offensive linemen staring back at him in the huddle as the Buccaneers have overhauled their line. Gone are tackle Donald Penn, center Jeremy Zuttah and guard Davin Joseph, replaced with Anthony Collins, Evan Dietrich-Smith and Oniel Cousins. James says despite the widespread changes, he wasn’t too surprised with the turnover on the overpaid and underachieving offensive line.

“It didn’t shock me because we all know this game is a business,” James said. “I have to be a running back that is able to create on my own. The line is going to do a great job. When they block, I’ll take whatever they give me, and whatever the defense gives me, and do a great job. I definitely miss those guys, but I love the new guys. It’s a bittersweet thing in this business, but we all know we have to take care of business.”

James, like all of his offensive teammates are eager to get back on the field and redeem their miserable performance that saw Tampa Bay finish with the league’s 32-ranked offense.

“Just like any offense, we move the chains,” James said. “You want to be the guys that get first-and-10s and third-and-1s. On the goal line, you want to be the guy. The running back plays a big role in the offense. As the coaching staff has stated, we’re going to be a run-heavy team so hopefully we have the guys we can lean on to do that.”
Last modified on Monday, 21 April 2014 10:02
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  • avatar


    Personally, I think when Mike James comes back he should be splitting time equally with Doogie. He had a much higher yards per carry last year than Doogie did, and the reason for his extra weight is that it is all muscle that he has added while rehabbing his injury. They should be used mostly between the tackles but we need to keep both Demps and Rainey for the speed in space attack. Whichever FB we keep can also double as a short yardage back too and the second best FB should be sent to the Practice Squad so we could bring them up if there was an injury. If we have a burner at slot receiver we will be able to run the end around too in order to outrun the perimeter. This Offence is going to be fun to watch this year and should set a Buc's record for yardage. I like our coaches and the players for value emphasis by Licht. He can stock us with young talent that will eventually replace all the value Free Agents he has brought us. Then we will have the money to keep the best players signed to long term contracts that reward them for their hard work, and the L & L Dynasty will be rolling.
  • avatar


    Horse: Doug Martin is a short back but certainly not a small one. At 215 he's about average. James, at 235 is actually on the bigger size. None are Mike Alstott or Ironhead Heyward, but the only small one is Jeff Demps. Take a look at the size of this years Draft prospects and you'll see they average around 215. James Wilder Jr., considered a "big back", is only 225.
  • avatar

    Bucs have to be one of deepest teams at RB position. Will be interesting to see who we keep.
  • avatar


    Good Article Mark. I like different sizes in my RB's and WR's and right now we don't have that. I believe that one of these small RB's will be traded.
  • avatar


    Good to see that both Mike James and Doug Martin have fully recovered and will be ready for training camp. I looked at the stable of RBs at the Bucs and felt like it’s the one position where we are set. But are we? And then out of the blue last week, the Bucs brought in RB Charles Sims, 6-0, 214lbs out of West Virginia for a workout at OBP. Sims is a Jahvid Best lookalike that has the size, speed, and moves that no other Buc RB possesses. NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks says “Charles Sims has Matt Forte-like talent” .YouTube highlights verify this similarity. Could Lovie Want another Matt Forte? Could Tedford see Sims as a skill set needed in his new offense? Is Doug, Mike, Bobby, or another Buc RB possible trade bait? Now, I’m not crazy enough or brave enough to suggest that Martin or James could be traded, but somebody needs to explain why the Bucs are seriously looking at a RB slotted to go in the 4th round with all of the other more pressing offensive needs. I asked Mark Cook and Scott Reynolds to inquire during the voluntary mini-camp this week, what’s up with the Sims visit. Stranger things have happened before! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_ZLITZeRZ4
  • avatar

    Two players are immune to trades Mac, McCoy and David. I can't imagine several others who are close, including Martin, but the coaches are necessarily looking for the 53 most talented as they are the 53 best fits. That was made obvious by the release of Revis. Nothing will surprise me this draft.
  • avatar


    Mark, hope you caught some waves Saturday. I'm on IR till training camp!
  • avatar

    Get better soon SD. I let the young kids have the waves. We did a paddle out at Sea Gull Park in Satellite for my buddy Brian. Waves were great good offshore breeze. A great memorial service for him.
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