Yes, I know. You can get a running back off of any practice squad across the league. It is also true you can potentially pick one up off of the streets. Okay that may be a bit of a stretch but it still holds true that an “elite” back in the NFL is harder to come by these days.
The Bucs don’t have a special kind of back that can get the job done consistently like how Doug Martin looked his rookie year. Since then, Martin hasn’t been the same runner. Injuries and poor offensive line play have plagued the former first-rounder, but at times other runners like Mike James and Bobby Rainey have produced some kind of numbers behind the same line. This year has been different.
Martin started the game off right. He ran for 10 carries for 48 yards and a touchdown in the first half against Cincinnati on Sunday. But in the second half, he carried the ball eight times for 10 yards. The difference was is that he was finding holes and making cutbacks away from where the run was designed to go. He didn't do the same in the second half when holes were opening up, instead running right into the backs of his linemen like what we have grown accustom to this season.
That’s where Ray Rice comes in. A judge reinstated Rice last week and is eligible to sign with any team. It’s been reported that the former Baltimore Ravens’ running back will take his time signing with someone. So why not the Bucs?
Many feel Rice’s 2013 numbers do not warrant a team signing him. His numbers, 214 carries 660 yards and four touchdowns, were his lowest since his rookie season. But what many fail to realize is that all of last season, Rice played with an injured hip. And his previous four seasons leading into 2013, he surpassed 1,000-plus yards rushing for all four years consecutively, also averaging eight touchdowns per season.
There are four teams reportedly interested in signing Rice, and one of them is Tampa Bay’s division rival New Orleans Saints. The Bucs have nothing to lose with signing the 27-year old. In fact, the Bucs need someone who will draw the attention off others on the offense because right now opponents are gameplanning aganist them by taking away rookie Mike Evans and veteran Vincent Jackson from the passing game.
As stated earlier, the word “elite” is becoming extinct when it comes to running backs. But the Bucs need a back that will force opposing defenses to gamplan for him. Rice brings that to the table. And the Buccaneers don’t have a player like that on their roster.
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