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Assessing The Running Back Situation

It's the off-season and many people are already looking forward to next season to see what Lovie Smith and company will bring to the Buccaneers team. Many people talking about the Bucs quarterback situation. No one seems to be speaking of our rather complicated backfield. Will they look to explore other possibilities besides Doug?Mike James was showing extreme upside until his injury. Showing traits of Martin in his running I see James as a key component of the backfield. He could truly take some work off of Doug's shoulders. Bobby Rainey could be a key element in the backfield next year. Proving he had true shiftiness with his short bursts of speed and great vision. He had some flashes of excellency and great potential. Then there's Brian Leonard, he proved he was a consistent back-up who could provide a quick first down and keep some clock running in a game. Last but not least there is Jeff Demps, an extremely explosive player with untapped talent due to lack of playing time.

Doug Martin is the first and most obvious option. With one of the best seasons for a Buccaneers running back to date. With an outstanding rookie season and amazing talent and the I.Q. to go with it Doug is an amazing starting running back for any team in the league. With an inconsistent start to his second season Martin seemed frustrated often being stopped behind or at the line. This was not Martins fault though as at the time the offense was pretty one dimensional, no passing threat was really their so defenses focused on Doug. He has an amazing upside, and not much downside, he can be consistent and in the right offense he can be unstoppable. Look for Doug to be back on the saddle again. Look for a great year for any back who plays though.

Mike James. Mike James could be the backup we are looking for. A young guy he showed extreme poise filling in for an amazing player, and actually raising some eyebrows. He gashed the Seahawks and actually did better than Martin at times. MIke James is extremely athletic with a decent football I.Q. to go with it. Look for him to challenge Doug to make him a better player.

Bobby Rainey could be a nice dual threat to go along with Doug, an nice burst of explosiveness to go along with MR. Consistency. Rainey is a back that could learn under the wing of Martin. Sure Martin isn't older than Rainey, but that doesn't matter. Bobby Rainey could learn a lot about which hole to cutback through, or when to make a move. Martin may be young but his I.Q. is leaps and bounds ahead of his age. Rainey and Martin could truly be an amazing combo that the Bucs offense needs.

Brian Leonard is probably the least talented back on this list. Leonard isn't anything special, but we don't care. Brian Leonard knows what to do when to do it, he knows what hole to hit what blockers to follow, and has enough athleticism to get the job done. Leonard always seems to churn his legs for those few extra yards and could be a viable third down back, and a good goal line back. Leonard could be a true asset to the team, he could easily play a second string RB position and carry eight- to -ten times a game.

Jeff Demps the most questionable back on the list. Hasn't played much for the Bucs Demps is an offensive spark plug. He can play in the backfield, used for recieving purposes, and as a special teamer Demps has pure speed. If Lovie can use him just right we could possibly tap into all that raw talent and make an amazing player out of him. Time will only tell for Demps.

What does all this mean? It means that I think we shouldn't rely on Doug so much, using a combination of backs would be the better option. Look for Doug to play key downs and get the bulk of the carries, but look for James and Rainey to have a decent amount of the workload taking some of the strain from Doug. Lastly look for Brian Leonard to continue to find himself in certain packages and formations getting three to four carries a game. With this our offense could truly be deadly.

Who is our best option?!?

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