The Buccaneers released their first official depth chart for the 2009 regular season on Monday, and running back Cadillac Williams has been named the starting halfback ahead of high-profile free agent signee Derrick Ward, who is the backup, and incumbent starter Earnest Graham, who is listed as the third-team running back ahead of Clifton Smith.
After nine months, Williams has made a triumphant return from a torn patellar tendon injury suffered in the 2008 season finale against Oakland to reclaim the starting role at halfback. Playing in just one preseason game, Williams rushed fro 54 yards on eight carries (6.8 avg.) against Miami on August 27, including a 19-yarder.
Williams, the fifth overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year five years ago when he rushed for 1,178 yards and six touchdowns to help lead the Buccaeners to the NFC South championship. After rushing for 798 yards in 14 games during the 2006 season, his last two years have been injury-marred affairs as he wound up on injured reserve with a torn patellar tendon injury in each knee during the 2007 and 2008 seasons.
Ward, who rushed for 1,025 yards on 182 carries (5.6 avg.) last year with the Giants, finished the preseason with 52 yards on 13 carries (4.0 avg.), including a 27-yarder, while Graham also produced a 27-yard run in rushing for 40 yards in nine carries (4.4 avg.).
In other depth chart news, rookie Sammie Stroughter is listed ahead of Brian Clark as Antonio Bryant's backup at split end, while Maurice Stovall is listed as Michael Clayton's backup at flanker.
The Bucs official depth chart can be viewed right here.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org