The Buccaneers head into the third week of the 2016 pre-season in hopes of deciding who will make the first wave of cuts. One of the biggest decisions is: who will be the third running back on the roster?
Finally, back home at Raymond James Stadium. The third and most important pre-season game is about to be played in front of the Buccaneers’ faithful fans. The best part about the third game being in Tampa, is that it is the most important game of the pre-season. Players need to make their mark in order to save themselves all because after this week, it will begin time for cuts. The Bucs’ roster will go from 90 players to 75. 15 players on the current team will be on the streets looking for new jobs.
Of the many position battles that will take place, one of the most important is that of the third running back spot. As you may know, Doug Martin and Charles Sims are obvious locks to make the roster, but who comes next? Mike James, Peyton Barber, Storm Johnson, and Russell Hansbrough are the four Bucs fighting for that spot.
I am going to cut it down to the two players who are most likely going to make this spot, that is unless Johnson and Hansbrough have a breakout week. James and Barber are the two Buc backs that have seen more of an opportunity to make this team. Also, Bucs had both of these players get a tremendous opportunity to play with the first team offensive line in Jacksonville and help solidify their shot.
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James and Barber both had great moments in Jacksonville. Barber was able to log 11 carries for a total of 40 yards, and James carried the ball six times for 17 yards. What also should be noted is that James was used in the passing game, having two catches for 11 yards.
After the game, Coach Koetter had an interview which he then provided great comments on the position battle.
"“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.”"
The high praise for Mike James is there, and it should be noted that this is his second year in the offense. This gives him an edge over his rookie teammate.
As for Barber, Coach Koetter was quoted as saying this,
"“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.” One thing that is obvious based upon these quotes is that whoever makes the third and final spot will need to show up special teams."
If I had to give an edge to one of these two backs, it would have to be James strictly due to his experience in the offense. Time is on James’ and Barber’s side. With more playing time than their counterparts once again this week could help them miss the first wave of the Bucs’ roster cuts. Who do you think will end up as the third and final back? Could the Bucs possibly keep four? What are your opinions Bucs’ fans?