The Buccaneers have gone from “razor thin’’ to downright plump at the running back position, where two key players returned to practice on Wednesday.
Jacquizz Rodgers, who has missed the last three games with a foot sprain, was back at work, as was Charles Sims, who has been on injured reserve since Week 4 with a knee sprain.
It will be at least two weeks, though, before the Bucs can activate Sims, so if their running game is going to get a boost any time soon – and it needs one – it will probably come from Rodgers.
Or maybe Peyton Barber. The undrafted rookie out of Auburn played a very small role in the Bucs 19-17 win over the Chiefs last week, but it was a big role nonetheless.
Barber ran just four times against the Chiefs but as a sub for a few downs for Doug Martin in the third quarter he gained 22 yards to leave a lasting impression on coach Dirk Koetter.
“Peyton Barber is one of the most improved guys on the team right now,’’ said Koetter, who even in the wake of the return of Martin is looking for a little improvement in his rushing attack.
The Bucs backs have run 59 times for just 172 yards (2.91 yards per carry) the last two games. Martin has run 40 times for just 93 yards (2.3 per carry) over that span, but Koetter believes that will soon change.
“It’s been great to have (Martin) back out there and I know he hasn’t broken as many long ones as we’re used to seeing from him but I think that will come as he plays more,’’ Koetter said.
“As for Rodgers and Sims, it was great to have them back out there. I mean, we’ve been razor thin at halfback for a month, but today, that was the (largest group) in history. Those guys weren’t even getting tired there were so many halfbacks out there.’’