Bucs RB Mike James – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
With Doug Martin given the night off and Charles Sims given the last three quarters off, the Bucs plan Saturday night was to get a good look at Mike James and Peyton Barber behind the first-team offensive line. They were able to do just that.
James, a fourth-year pro, carried six times for 17 yards and added 11 yards and a touchdown on two receptions, all in the first half. Barber, an undrafted rookie, carried 11 times for 40 yards, including a nine-yard run to the goal line at the end of the third quarter that set up Storm Johnson’s score.
Coach Dirk Koetter’s came away impressed with James’ consistency and versatility and Barber’s inside running – a phase of the offense Koetter highlighted as a positive while also crediting the the O-Line.
“Mike James (Sunday) night really showed what he is and he’s just real consistent in all phases,” Koetter said. “He runs the ball pretty well, and there he is catching check downs right where he needs to be. Mike Glennon found him a couple times in the red zone, including the touchdown, and he’s solid on special teams.
“We wanted to get Peyton Barber a few runs with the first offensive line,” he continued. “We did that. And just like we thought from practice, Peyton is a good inside runner and he’s a big back. He’s powerful. And he also made a couple nice plays on special teams.”
For the quartet of running backs competing for a final spot or two – James, Barber, Johnson and Russell Hansbrough – special teams is particularly important.
“If you’re going to be a backup running back, you have to be able to play on special teams,” Koetter said. He noted that, along with James and Barber, Hansbrough also had a “couple real nice plays in (punt) coverage” Saturday night in Jacksonville.
There were still rookie mistakes that need to be cleaned up, Koetter said, but there’s more time for running backs to separate themselves from the pack and the Bucs to make final decisions on who to keep. One thing to expect over the next two weeks is plenty more carries and receptions for all four guys. Tampa Bay won’t run Martin and Sims too often against Cleveland and the duo likely won’t even dress against Washington.
“Doug and Chuck in these next two games, we’re not going to pound those guys to death,” Koetter said. “We just don’t believe in pounding our running backs during the preseason. So we still have time.
“Offensively (on Saturday), we did play more physical than we did last week. We ran the football. We ran for over 150 yards and we did a good job of reducing our penalties.”
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: [email protected]
Would be nice see a Mr. August emerge from this quartet of backs ala Ernest Graham, one of the best and most unheralded Bucs to ever play the game/
I like the fact that coach is being smart about using his RB’s in pre-season and is giving everyone a good look.
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