Jacquizz Rodgers is out this week, leaving the Buccaneers with a hole in their backfield before a solid Thursday night matchup with Atlanta.
While the third starter isn’t official, the Buccaneers will likely run a committee and then ride the hot hand. The bulk of the work will be done by Antone Smith and Peyton Barber, with Mike James possibly stealing a few touches.
Antone Smith could start with the load, as he has the inside track on the job. Like Rodgers, Smith worked with Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter when he was running the offense in Atlanta. Smith was known as a big-play threat for the Falcons, touching the ball sparingly but able to provide a big play at any moment. He touched the ball just eight times in his first four seasons with the Falcons, before averaging 6.3 yards per carry and 17.1 yards per reception in 2014.
In Barber’s case, Koetter confirmed he would use a committee and that he would get the rookie involved in the offense. But if most of last week’s game against Oakland is any indication, the Bucs will take it slow with the former Auburn Tiger. Barber only played three snaps last week to Smith’s 22, as the Bucs fell to the Raiders on a late overtime touchdown.
If Smith heats up, he could factor in the Bucs offense for the rest of the season. That would be interesting, because both Doug Martin (hamstring) and Rodgers (foot) are dealing with lower-body injuries. Those are the types of injuries that could persist, and Smith, who is a dangerous receiver as well as rusher, could have a big second half of the season.