Buccaneers Preview: Running Backs

BucsBlitz.com's countdown to training camp continues with a preview of the running backs and fullbacks. Each day BucsBlitz.com will break down a different position leading up to reporting day in Orlando on July 26.

Recently, Scout.com's senior NFL reporter Adam Caplan responded to several questions about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, ranging from offseason moves to a season prediction. What did Caplan think of Tampa Bay's reluctance to give QB Jeff Garcia a contract extension, among other things? Find out in this exclusive Q&A, with additional commentary from Saintsinsider.com's Matthew Postins. Get the scoop right here.

RUNNING BACKS: Starters -- RB Earnest Graham, FB B.J. Askew. Backups -- RB Warrick Dunn, RB Michael Bennett, RB Cadillac Williams, RB Kenneth Darby, RB Cory Boyd, FB Byron Storer.

Graham received a contract extension last month and should be the opening-day starter. While only 5-foot-8, Graham has the build that allows him to bounce off would-be tacklers and handle tough runs inside the tackles. He also showed he could handle a No. 1 back's workload last year. Tampa Bay should use him 20 times per game as they seek to establish a power running attack.

The Bucs signed Askew to an extension because his combination of bruising running, effective blocking and solid pass catching is as close to the retired Mike Alstott as they're likely to get. He won't have gaudy numbers, but he's undeniably effective and a great fit for the scheme.

Dunn is 33 years old, but a reduced role in the Bucs' offense could do him some favors. The blocking in Tampa Bay should be better than last year in Atlanta, and Dunn is now the best receiving back on the team. The Bucs could use Dunn as much as 10-15 times per game as a runner and receiver, and he could be effective in that role. Bennett was re-signed before Dunn and is a similar back. If any back in the offense suffers from a lack of use, it will likely be Bennett, who has track-level speed but has never been consistent.

Williams should start the season on the physically unable to perform list as he continues to recover from a torn patellar tendon in his right knee. The Bucs and Williams both say the back will play at some point this year and, by all accounts, his rehab is going smoothly. But Williams won't be in football shape for training camp and should benefit from the extra three months than the PUP would provide.

Darby and Boyd will be fighting for a roster spot in this crowded backfield and will have to prove an asset on special teams.

Storer showed last year that he could fill in for Askew in a pinch, as he started twice as a rookie. He's considered more of a blocking back and shouldn't be counted on to catch many passes. He'll make his money on special teams.

Which five positions battles are going to keep Buccaneers coaches and fans interested the next six weeks? There are key battles that could determine the Bucs' success this season. What are they? Get expert analysis and predictions from Bucsblitz.com. Just click here to find out who made the list.

Which five Bucs have the most to gain — and the most to lose — at training camp? Bucsblitz.com has the scoop for you in this exclusive analysis Just click here to find out who made the list.

They were the nine biggest stories of the offseason for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. How did the Bucs do in the magnifying glass of hindsight? Did they do the right things to attack their team needs and keep the team on the winning track? Matthew Postins of bucsblitz.com examines those storylines and their impact on the upcoming season in his exclusive group of articles:

Vol. 1 — the coaching staff.

Vol. 2 — the secondary's future.

Vol. 3 — is Jovan Haye a future star?

Vol. 4 — the precarious state at running back.

Vol. 5 — who will eventually replace Joey Galloway?

Vol. 6 — Jon Gruden's contract extension.

Vol. 7 — What should the Bucs do at center?

Vol. 8 — re-signing a key tight end.

Vol. 9 — assessing the return game.

We're gearing up for training camp at Bucsblitz.com. Today we've posted our first Mailbag feature, with answers to questions on Greg White, Jeff Garcia and a potential breakout player. Just click here to check it out. Part 2 will include an answer on Brett Favre and be published later this week.

Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla.

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