Head coaches divulging game plan information just doesn’t happen much, so it was no surprise when Dirk Koetter refused to budge when asked about the Bucs’ undesirable situation at running back this week.

Not only did Koetter offer little Tuesday in terms of who would be seeing the most playing time, he wouldn’t even admit which players were on the Bucs roster. Former Buccaneer back Mike James had a jersey in the locker room and was on the field practicing before Koetter’s press conference Tuesday, but the head coach wouldn’t talk about his potential impact Thursday night against Atlanta because the team hadn’t officially announced James’ signing.

The team sent out that email before the conference room door shut behind Koetter.

Bucs RB Mike James – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs RB Mike James – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Mind games aside, nothing changes the fact that the Bucs are hurting at running back. Doug Martin, Charles Sims III, Jacquizz Rodgers – they’re all out. Trying to fill the as-of-yet unfillable void is a group consisting of James, veteran backup Antone Smith, and rookie Petyon Barber. The trio’s combined career stats: 130 carries for 742 yards and five touchdowns.

When asked about how the backs might be used Thursday, Koetter offered up little direct information to work with. He did, however, hint at the idea that Barber could see his touches approach the 12 he got in San Francisco two weeks ago.

“It’s probably going to happen.” – On if Barber will get a heavier workload.

“Not sure about that, yet. But we’ll be playing more than one halfback.” – On if Barber would be the lead back.

“We’re using him, I guess if we’re going to put guys in a box, we’re using him somewhat as a third-down back, but that’s not his only role right now. When you have three guys who have been here short-term – other than Peyton, the rookie – your roles aren’t very clearly defined right now. So, we’re trying to patch it together, one week at a time until we get some reinforcements back.” – On how Smith fits into the mix.

Since Koetter wouldn’t acknowledge James’ presence in Tampa Bay, the former sixth-round draft pick’s potential usage is a wild card.

Smith rushed four times for 16 yards and added a 9-yard reception last week against Oakland. He also fumbled once, though it was recovered, and couldn’t come up with a third-and-short catch in overtime. After picking up 84 yards on 12 carries and scoring on a 44-yard run in San Francisco, Barber’s only action against the Raiders was picking up a yard on his only attempt.

James hasn’t logged a regular season carry since Week 10 in 2014. The 25-year-old picked up 16 yards on four carriers in the Bucs’ 27-17 home loss against Atlanta.

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About the Author: Eric Horchy

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Justin2626
4 years ago

Mike James will be our leading rusher and have the highest YPC – heard it here first. Excited that we were able to steal this kid back, don’t think he should have ever been cut from the PS.

wnb0395
4 years ago

Who still thinks Martin is worth the millions we gave him? I still cant believe we gave top 5 running back money to a player who only plays 50% of the time.

Naplesfan
Reply to  wnb0395
4 years ago

We gave him the money in a contract year after he came in no. 2 in the league in rushing yards last season, barely beaten out by a likely Hall of Famer. We didn’t pay Martin anywhere near what the Vikes paid the guy who barely beat out Martin for the rushing title.

Anybody can get injured in this league. We’ve had more than our share this year.

wnb0395
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 years ago

We gave money to an injury prone RB who was barely beat out by a sure fire hall of famer at the end of his career. Your right that any player can get injured but how many players gets injured every other year and still makes top 5 money at his position. AP missed 9 games his first 7 years in the league. Martin has missed 21 games in his first 4.5 years. The Vikings are paying AP for what he has done in his career. 11725 yds and 97 touchdowns in 9.5 seasons compared to Martin who has 3891… Read more »

Naplesfan
Reply to  wnb0395
4 years ago

Oh, and the guy who barely outgained Martin last season, Adrian Peterson, is out on IR, done for the season, and his cap number this year is $12M vs. $8M for Martin this year. At least Martin can come back and play one of these weeks soon.

wnb0395
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 years ago

Your right AP is done for the year. Like you said, every RB gets injured in this league and nobody would have thought it would be AP due to the fact he has only missed 9 games in 9 years due to injury. I guarantee you that if AP was injured as often as Martin and put up Martins numbers, he wouldn’t be making 12 mil or anything close to 8 mil a year. Martin can come back and play again this season until he gets injured again (LOL). Baring some kind of miracle, Martin isn’t going to rush for… Read more »

Naplesfan
Reply to  wnb0395
4 years ago

You’re only as good as your last season in a contract year. Martin played extremely well in his contract year, and got rewarded. In the last three years, Adrian Peterson has and will have only made 19 out of 48 possible starts, due both to injury in 2014 as well as his suspension for off the field behavior. I doubt few were shocked that he went on IR in this, his 10th NFL season, which is really getting long in the tooth for any heavily-used NFL running back. Martin, on the other hand, is in only his 5th season in… Read more »