Mike James to the Buccaneers: How Does RB Fit with Tampa Bay?

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Mike James to the Buccaneers: How Does RB Fit with Tampa Bay?
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted running back Mike James in the sixth round (No. 189 overall) just moments after trading for RB Jeff Demps, the former Florida Gators standout-turned-Olympic track star.

James has some redeeming qualities as a big, bruising back, namely his ability to run between the tackles and pick up tough, short-yardage gains. This is something the Bucs lacked with former back LeGarrette Blount, who somehow notoriously struggled in similar situations.

Also unlike Blount, James is much more adept at catching passes out of the backfield, something that limited Blount's touches last season.

 

Role

With four other backs on the roster—Doug Martin, Brian Leonard, Michael Smith and Demps—competition for playing time will be stiff. Leonard was with Coach Schiano at Rutgers and is someone clearly near and dear to his heart. Smith and Demps will compete not only at running back but also as returners.

So, where does that leave James?

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If he can come into camp and hold his own, he stands a great chance of making the team as a short-yardage back. This is especially true considering bringing him in doesn't automatically signal to the defense that a run is coming, much like bringing in the receiving-challenged Blount did in seasons past.

 

Early Projection

I can see James making this team as a hard-nosed, pass-catching, bruising running back. How many touches that translates into this season is hard to tell, but considering their many shortcomings in recent history in short-yardage situations, the Bucs would love to have a back capable of consistently picking up one or two yards when it's sorely needed.

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