The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost star running back Doug Martin in week 7 against the Atlanta Falcons. He was the engine that kept the offense moving and with his injury, no one knew who would be able to replace him.
Last year’s backup running back LaGarrette Blount was traded to the New England Patriots during the 2013 NFL Draft for running back/Olympic sprinter Jeff Demps and a 6th round pick. They did sign running back Brian Leonard from the Cincinnati Bengals but he was brought in to be a third down running back who can pass block and run the ball.
The 6th round pick they got from New England was used on running back Mike James from the University of Miami. James was never the full time starter in UM as he shared carries with now Miami Dolphins running Lamar Miller and UM running back Duke Johnson. Head coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik saw a lot of potential with Mike James, as he is very smart, runs with authority and can pass block. He is viewed as a younger running back Earnest Graham who had a very nice career in Tampa. Most sixth round picks don’t play as rookies, some don’t even make the team, don’t tell that to Mike James though as he has become the number one running back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Mike James started off slow as the starter as he only rushed for 45 yards against the Atlanta Falcons and 39 yards against the Carolina Panthers. In his last game versus the Seattle Seahawks, Mike James rushed for 158 yards. Yes, that is not a misprint, he ran for 158! He never once rushed for over 100 yards as a Miami Hurricane and his last 100-yard game was when he was in High School. The Seahawks could not stop him as he was averaging 5.6 yards a carry, as a rookie! He also threw a jump pass touchdown to tight end Tom Crabtree.
Defenses will have to pay attention to him now as he could make them pay with big runs. His next game is against the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football. He can now show the world who he really is on national television. Watch out Miami.