Training camp is a couple of weeks away and many battles will take place. One of the biggest battles will be that of kickers Roberto Aguayo and Nick Folk, however, the running back position will have some battles of its own.
Doug Martin is to be suspended the first few games of the regular season and isn’t eligible to return until week four, so who is going to take up the slack in Martin’s absence? Dirk Koetter has no problem using a running back committee, as we saw last season, but who is going to head that committee?
After Martin was injured last season, the lead role was handed down to Charles Sims and he was paired with Jacquizz Rodgers for a fairly productive one-two punch. However, that one-two punch did not last long, as Sims sustained an injury of his own. Rodgers took the lead spot and maintained the role until Martin’s return, but due to Martin’s suspensions, Rodgers regained the role for the final few games of the seasons.
Tampa did not draft a high profile running back early in the NFL draft and that indicates that Martin is likely to remain the guy. However, they did draft Jeremy McNichols of Martin’s alma mater Boise State. McNichols is looked at as the bigger, badder version of Doug Martin and is thought to be a prime candidate for Martin’s replacement, “If anything were to happen.”
Peyton Barber, Russell Hansbrough, and Blake Sims are also on the depth chart and all vying for a spot on the roster and preferably a spot anywhere in the 1-3 range. Although talented, some of those guys will not make it.
Charles Sims is another running back that most have forgotten about and after a subpar performance as a starting running back, early in Martin’s absence, to quickly become injured and missing 9 games last season, the forgetfulness of the many may just be justifiable.
Sims has had plenty of time to rest and heal up and if he is back to his 2015 form then he will have a leg up on the other competition, as Sims does something better than any other running back on our team, short of the rookie McNichols, and that catches the football and gain big yards on passing plays.
Unless Charles Sims has taken his running game to the next level, I doubt he will start the first few games of the regular season, but if he is back to his 2015 form then there is no doubt that he will make the roster this year. Until then he is still on the outside looking in.