After an incredible 2012 campaign in which Doug Martin got 368 touches as a rookie running back, it’s hard to image the Tampa Bay Buccaneers going to anything resembling a committee approach in 2013. While there may not be a ton of extra carries to go around, Mike James has emerged as the favorite to win a backup role that could get some decent work based on the volume of run work Greg Schiano stresses.
With a vastly improved roster at most weak spots, it’s likely that Tampa will play from ahead more often next season — and with maulers on the line like Carl Nicks and now run-dimensional Gabe Carimi — we could the see 223-pounder out of Miami make a name for himself in spot duty.
The Tampa Tribune has the pulse on camp battles ensuing in front of Coach Schiano and staff: “Sixth-round rookie Mike James is the heavy favorite, and some expect him to win out over Michael Smith and Brian Leonard in a landslide. James lacks explosion as a runner, but he is very disciplined and can block. Smith, on the other hand, could potentially be on the roster bubble.
Tampa took James with the 21st pick of the sixth round, and he’s already earning the respect of running backs Coach Earnest Byner, to whom James could actually draw comparisons.
“Although you could tell he had a lot of football knowledge coming in, Mike was open to growing on this level,” Byner said, via The Ledger Media Group. “He’s been open to the teaching we’ve had in this room. The guy has the ability to compete. He’s going to make the room better by his attitude and his approach to the game.”