Among the many battles that Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans will be watching closely in training camp, one of the more underrated ones is in the backfield.
Everyone will be zeroed in on the quarterback battle, but who is behind him in the backfield is still a partially unanswered question. We know that Rachaad White is entering camp as RB1, taking over for Leonard Fournette, but the battle in the backfield is over who will be his running mate as RB2?
There have been rumors all offseason of the Bucs making some sort of splashy move at running back to help fix the league's worst rushing attack from last season. Ezekiel Elliott has been tossed out as a potential fit, especially given his ties to new running backs coach Skip Peete, and there were rumors the Bucs might target Texas running back Bijan Robinson in the NFL Draft.
None of those ended up happening, though, and it seems there was a good reason.
The Bucs did end up adding a running back in free agency, signing Chase Edmonds away from the Denver Broncos, but it's another back who appears to be entering training camp as the guy offensive coordinator Dave Canales sees as RB2.
Buccaneers Rumors: Dave Canales praises Ke'Shawn Vaughn as RB2
Canales recenty went on the excellent 2 B’s In A Pod podcast and dropped a bit of a spoiler in terms of where things stand in the backfield. While discussing the great skills that White brings to the team as the lead back, Canales praised Ke'Shawn Vaughn and referred to him as though he's the next guy on the depth chart.
“I think that one of the cool parts [on offense] is Ke’Shawn Vaughn,” Canales said.“We call him ‘Sneak.’ He’s our two [back], and he’s a fantastic runner. Just quick feet in the hole, sturdy build. And he’s just got a real natural feel for it.”
Endorsements don't get much bigger than this, as Vaughn appears to already be winning over his new coach.
It's sort of been assumed that Vaughn might be the odd-man-out in the backfield, especially after the Bucs went out and signed Edmonds. That doesn't seem to be the case at all, as it's clear Canales is already putting his fingerprints on this new offense.
While it's not a massive plot twist, it does feel like when you go into a movie assuming it will be one thing based off reading the synopsis but it turns out to be something else because the director knows what he's doing. Canales isn't going to simply run back the same offense in a new way, he's putting his vision in motion and it appears that Vaughn is a big part of that.
One other thing to takeaway from Canales' comment is that it doesn't sound like Vaughn is taking a backseat as RB2, he'll be more of a complimentary back. This gets even more interesting when you consider what Skip Peete did with Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard in Dallas, as well as the many running back pairings Canales used with great success in Seattle.
It once looked like Vaughn was an easy target to land on roster bubble lists during training camp -- something that's already happened. Instead, he might end up being a more important piece of the Bucs offense this upcoming season than anyone expected.