For those of you worried about newly signed RB Derrick Ward fitting in as Earnest Graham is largely considered the starter, don’t be because he embraces it:
"I told my agent when this first started, just get me to Tampa. I just feel this is the right fit for me.. I know Earnest is the guy here. Hopefully he'll embrace me and I'll embrace him and we'll work well together. It's just going to be exciting. I wish we could start practicing today. Pretty much everybody in the NFL is running the two- or three-back system. That's just going to work to our advantage. If you have two or three running backs who can get the job done during the course of a game, that's going to pay dividends for the offense and the team as a whole." - Tampa Tribune and St. Pete Times.
As I said last night, Ward is perfect in the offense as he is capable of playing 16 games, provides a physical element we didn’t always have, and can take over Warrick Dunn’s pass catching responsibilities from a year ago. He and Graham together will provide that downhill running dynamic Jags wanted coming into the off-season. Couple that with a spark plug like Clifton Smith and you have a rushing attack that can adjust to any defense. We all figured the Bucs would go Running back with that 2nd Round Draft Pick now that is no longer a need (which is good because we no longer possess that 2nd round draft pick i.e. K2). Should Cadillac Williams return to form we will have tons of depth where Graham may even become an asset at full back to help out Byron Storer and B.J. Askew should he be re-signed.
Big Blue View our Giants Bloggers take on Ward:
"Derrick Ward left the New York Giants because he wanted the opportunity to be a team's featured back, something he would never get with Brandon Jacobs in New York. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are giving him that opportunity. Question is, no one knows if Ward is a No. 1 back -- not even Ward himself. Ward is a very good player. He has the size, speed and willingness to run inside. He has the speed to run outside and be a big-play threat. He is an excellent receiver out of the backfield, and he can block. He can also return kickoffs."
"He is also a five-year veteran who has averaged more than 15 carries only once. That was 2007, when he played eight games (starting 5 when Jacobs was hurt) before suffering a broken leg. In 2008, he gained 1,025 yards but averaged just a shade above 11 carries per game. As skilled as Ward is, there was always a noticeable dropoff in the Giants running game in 2008 whenever Jacobs was not able to play. So, the question is, can Ward have the kind of success he had in 2008 without a big bruiser like Jacobs around to soften up defenses for him first? Also, does he have the durability to handle 18-20 carries a game, something he has never been asked to do. Honestly, I hope he succeeds in Tampa Bay. He has waited a long time for the chance, and I hope he makes the most of it." – Ed of Big Blue View
Everybody seems to agree that Ward is a very good back. Everybody has also questioned his durability and whether he can carry the load. With that said, the Bucs don't expect him to carry the load and more importantly Derrick himself is on board with sharing the load with Earnest Graham and despite reports that he wanted to get a starting gig, I think he realizes a two back system is the way to go these days. The other thing that intrigues me is his versatility. His pass catching skills should prove to be a real asset. With the draft presenting such an unknown the Bucs had to bring in Ward. He was eager to do so, so it appears to be the perfect marriage.