Under the Microscope: RB Kareem Huggins

Now that the Draft has finally come and quickly gone, we're going to do what we can here at Buc'Em to get over the summertime football blues and keep your football palates salivating for more.  Among several other offseason featured series of articles, we'll be taking a closer look at all members of the 53-man roster and the practice squad this offseason. 

Although this might seem an odd choice to kick off this particular series, I'm curious to take a closer look at the running back position first...especially after coming off the heels of Paul's recent bit on Caddy.  I'd like to start off with a guy few fans seem to know much about, but many want to take a closer look at.......Buccaneer RB and man of mystery Kareem Huggins. 

At 5-9, 198 pounds, Huggins appears to be a little slight in size for a prototypical featured running back.  However, he's played with a fierceness and physicality that did not go unnoticed by his coaches last preseason.  Huggins hyperextended his knee in the preseason game against Jacksonville and missed the rest of the preseason, which might have been the reason Huggins narrowly missed catching on the 53-man roster at the start of the season.  Huggins was among the last players cut and made it on the Buccaneer practice squad after clearing waivers. 

Huggins has managed to stay out of the spotlight since entering college.  He played his college ball at Hofstra from 2004 to 2007, during which time he played with WR Marques Colston and Wisconsin transfer QB Bryan Savage.  Although it's tough for the average joe and media members to evaluate a player against lower-level competition like pro scouts can, it is, at a minimum, impressive to see him steadily increase his level of production each year with the team.  He upped his carries and rushing yardage significantly each season, topping out with 957 rushing yards at a healthy 5.4 ypc on an offense geared to throw the football.  Here's a quick look at his stats:

Stats Overview Rushing Receiving Fumbles
YEAR ATT YDS AVG LNG TD REC YDS AVG LNG TD FUM LST
2004 27 130 4.8 0 2 6 77 12.8 0 0 0 0
2005 87 529 6.1 0 6 11 148 13.5 0 1 0 0
2006 136 572 4.2 0 4 13 79 6.1 0 0 0 0
2007 178 957 5.4 55 9 15 93 6.2 9 0 0 0

So what does Huggins bring to the table for the Buccaneers? 

A lot, arguably.

His most advertised attribute is speed.  4.28 speed.  A flash through the middle against a defense a step or two quicker than the back before him.  He's certainly got the skills to be useful as a 3rd-down/situational back....a role that was noticeably absent last season on the Buccaneer roster.  Against aggressive, press-man defenses, Huggins could, for example, line up next to Freeman and come off into the flat on a delayed route against a linebacker in the area cleared out by the corner...who's now pursuing his man down the field.  With Huggy's speed, he should have the advantage and elusivity to get the edge on the linebacker (in a typical, base 4-3 defense not rolling towards that side of the field) and make an impact play.  His speed also could help reestablish a misdirection/counter element of the running game that's been noticeably absent and allowed opposing defenses to react aggressively at the snap. 

Watching some of his highlights, I'm also impressed with Huggy's awareness, vision, and ability to quickly find the alley for an optimal gain.  Check him out..........here.  Gives me hope and faith he could become an every-down back with that kind of vision, and merit consideration in the regular every-down rotation with Ward and Caddy in 2010.

So what do you think about Huggins' prospects for 2010? Do you see him sticking around and making an impact?  Getting cut?  What do you say, Buc'Em? 

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