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Bucs Commit to Ground Game

Posted Nov 6, 2013

Wednesday Notes: It took a full-team commitment on Sunday in Seattle to produce the 205 rushing yards that nearly carried Tampa Bay to an upset victory...Plus, Dashon Goldson practices and other notes

  • Good downfielding blocking by the receivers was part of the commitment the Bucs made to the running game on Sunday
  • RB Jeff Demps has been placed on injured reserve and the Bucs have claimed S Bradley McDougald off waivers
  • QB Mike Glennon is looking forward to his first experience on Monday Night Football
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers ran for a season-high 205 yards on Sunday in Seattle, and rookie RB Mike James understandably got much of the attention for that encouraging performance.  After all, James, in just his second NFL start, ran for 158 yards on 28 carries, the 10th-highest single-game total in the Buccaneers' entire 38-season history.

Obviously, however, James needed help from his teammates to move the ball against Seattle's second-ranked defense.  That started with an offensive line that was in its sixth different five-man iteration in just eight games, but also extended to the other five offensive players on the field.  Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan said he could see that group playing with a different attitude on Sunday.

“I think our offensive line did a great job drawing the line in the sand, so to speak," said Sullivan.  "I think the commitment by all the other positions as well, the tight end group, the receivers – there are some clips of guys making some blocks down the field.  Vincent Jackson – here’s a team-first guy, the fact that, sure, you’d love to catch a lot of balls and a lot of balls have been thrown his way, but he bought in. Hopefully, we can build upon that moving forward.”

James averaged 5.6  yards per carry, the sixth-best mark in team history among players with at least 25 carries in a game, and the Bucs' rushing game as a whole averaged 5.4 yards per tote.  That was despite no run going longer for 21 yards; James was getting very good push in front of him, which means he often passed the line of scrimmage before being touched.  That helped him rack up seven different carries of more than 10 yards.

-- S D. Goldson has missed the last two games with a knee injury
And, returning the favor to those who helped him pick up those 158 yards, James also did his job in a variety of ways that didn't show up on the stat sheet.

“I’m very, very impressed with him, fortunate that he’s on our team, because he really is doing all the things, it’s clear, from the standpoint of running and the yards after contact," said Sullivan.  "That 29 [safety Earl Thomas] is a pretty darn good player for Seattle, and he made him miss a couple times, so that’s clear to see, but there’s some things behind the scenes – from a protection standpoint, catching the ball. I’m very, very impressed with him.”

* RB Doug Martin spoke on Wednesday about the progress he is making regarding his shoulder injury and whether or not he would return to action this season.  That final determination remains to be seen, but this much is certain: RB Jeff Demps will definitely not be returning to the Bucs' backfield this year.

Demps suffered a groin injury in the Bucs' Week Six game against Philadelphia, had surgery the following week and has been a game-day inactive in the subsequent three games.  However, the Bucs have determined that he will not recover in time to help the team this season, so on Wednesday he was placed on injured reserve.

That freed up a spot on the active roster for the Buccaneers to claim rookie safety Bradley McDougald off waivers from the Kansas City Chiefs.  The 6-0, 215-pound McDougald was a two-way star at the University of Kansas, finishing with 194 tackles and six picks as well as 52 catches for 558 yards and two touchdowns, but he went undrafted last spring.  McDougald chose to stay close to home by signing with the Chiefs, and it paid off when he made the active roster to start the regular season.  He later spent three weeks on the Chiefs' practice squad before returning to the 53-man roster in mid-October.  McDougald saw action in one game for the Chiefs this season, playing on special teams.

The Buccaneers' safety position now includes two players who were claimed off waivers from other teams this season.  The team acquired former Miami Dolphins safety Kelcie McCray in the same manner on October 2.

*McCray and McDougald could end up serving as the team's two reserves at safety on Monday night if usual starting free safety Dashon Goldson is forced to miss a third straight game due to his knee injury.  However, Goldson did get in on Wednesday's abbreviated practice, which Schiano saw as an encouraging development.

“He’s doing better," said Schiano. "I think he’s improving; he’s got to keep improving that’s what we need out of him.”

Since the Buccaneers play on Monday night, they are not required to submit their first official injury report until Thursday.  Schiano said the team would practice in pads on Thursday, which means a list of which players were limited in participation for that workout would be more telling, anyway.

* The "firsts" keep coming for rookie QB Mike Glennon, who has already cleared a variety of hurdles in his five-game NFL starting career.  Most recently, he took on the most difficult venue in the NFL for visiting teams last Sunday in Seattle and emerged with a season-best 123.1 passer rating, if not quite a victory.

Now it's Monday Night Football, that 43-year-old institution that is so deeply ingrained in the fabric of the NFL.  Glennon has already played under the lights in a Week Eight Thursday Night Football matchup with Carolina, but MNF is in a category of its own.

“It’s pretty neat, Glennon admitted.  "As a kid growing up, that was kind of always the big thing that we looked forward to, was the Monday night game. I can remember staying up to watch probably just to halftime, back when I was a little kid, but it’s kind of what you always hear about, is Monday Night Football – that’s kind of the prime-time, the show time, everyone’s watching. I know there are other national T.V. games now, the Thursday night, the Sunday night, but it’s kind of just the backbone of the NFL spotlight is that Monday night game. It’s definitely something I’m looking forward to and probably dreamed of for a long time now.”

During the game, MNF broadcaster Jon Gruden, the Buccaneers' Head Coach from 2002-08, will surely be breaking down Glennon's game.  It won't be the first time.  Glennon was one of the quarterbacks in the 2013 draft pool who had an opportunity to sit down with the former coach for a segment in the popular Gruden QB Camp series on ESPN.  The Bucs' quarterback is likely to be one of the players that Gruden and the rest of the MNF team will meet with in the days before Monday's game in order to add color to the broadcast.

“It was a great learning experience," said Glennon.  "What they show on T.V. is 20 minutes, but you’re in there for about five hours meeting with him. He’s really smart, he’s great with quarterbacks, so it was fun just to hear what he had to say just about the game of football.  "It’ll be interesting to meet with him again to hear what he has to say because he’s obviously an extremely smart football guy and has been around the game for awhile and has coached some good quarterbacks. It will be nice to see him again.”