Who has been shining in camp, and who has succumbed to the shadows of the better skilled? I have been researching the latest news on Tampa Bay's RBs and I'm here to bring it to you.
Earnest Graham—5'9", 225 lbs., 29 years old
In May, Graham returned to full speed successfully after coming off a high ankle sprain with ligament damage. NFL.com's Steve Wyche reported that it would be likely that he'd be splitting carries with Derrick Ward.
On June 3, Bucs' RB coach Steve Logan said that he sees RB Derrick Ward as a nice "change of pace" from Earnest Graham. Logan also said that Ward is speedier than Graham, but so far, they are still set to have a split role. As football fans know, however, nothing is set in stone till Week One.
Derrick Ward—5'8", 228 lbs., 29 years old
Earnest Graham and Derrick Ward are almost identical in body size and age, but Ward has been impressing the Bucs' staff with his quicker moves and ability to make plays on the outside. As stated earlier, the two aforementioned RBs should be sharing a starring role.
Kareem Huggins—5'9", 198 lbs., 23 years old
On May 5, the Bucs signed undrafted rookie free agent Kareem Huggins, an 2007 alumnus of Hofstra University. There isn't a lot of news out of Tampa Bay as to how Huggins looks on the field, but it doesn't seem entirely likely that Huggins will have a big role in the 2009-10 season. Huggins would serve well to bulk up a little bit this year and learn from the great examples in Ward and Graham.
Clifton Smith—5'9", 190 lbs., 24 years old
Clifton Smith was made into a classic feel-good football story last year. From a player unable to hold onto the pigskin to a clutch punt returner who made it to the Pro Bowl, Smith is expected by the coaching staff to make the best out of his NFL opportunity this season.
Offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodkinski explained to the sports press that he has been using Smith in the running back this offseason, and it has been working well. "He can run an option route on an outside linebacker, and that's a great matchup for us", Jagodzinski said.
Josh Vaughn-6'0", 232 lbs., 22 years old
Josh Vaughn, a rookie out of Richmond, might not necessarily make the running back spot, but will probably make the roster anyway. He can play as a short yardage back, or as backup fullback with the recent addition of Byron Storer.
For our running back topic's sake, however, I would say that this specific position won't be the one he will showcase.
Carnell Williams—5'11", 217 lbs., 27 years old
Coming back from a second knee injury in two seasons, Carnell Williams might be going on the PUP list. Will the Bucs keep him? To this Bucs researcher, I don't think it's likely.
Conclusion (so far):
Both Graham and Ward could have close to a thousand yards with Tampa Bay's desire run the ball to take pressure off the quarterback.
The two wild cards are Smith and Vaughn, but they are promising prospects.
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