Rising Playmaker Sends Message to Buccaneers

Bruce Arians

Getty Buccaneers senior advisor Bruce Arians had a role in drafting Rachaad White last year.

As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers get set to cut running back Leonard Fournette, Rachaad White touted his case to become the top back on the team.

The second-year running back from Arizona State showed off his new No. 1 jersey, a change from No. 29, via Twitter on Friday, March 3. White wrote a simple message, “da one”, to go along with the picture and a workout video.

White emerged as the top running back for the Bucs in 2022 but for a team that struggled mightily to run the ball. He finished with 481 yards rushing and a touchdown on 129 carries. He also caught 50 passes for 290 yards and two touchdowns.

Bucs general manager Jason Licht said “Rachaad is a good, young back that is just scratching the surface of what he can do” during an NFL Combine press conference on Tuesday, February 28. Licht also said the running game could improve with White and a healthy offensive line.

The Bucs will likely find another running back in free agency or the draft, but the team has a little depth with Ke’Shawn Vaughn. The fourth-year back showed promise late in 2021 with two touchdowns in three games, but he only touched the ball 20 times in 2022.

“Ke’Shawn — I don’t think he really has had a fair opportunity to show what he can do and what we know he can do from practice,” Licht said.

Bucs OC Likes White’s ‘Toughness’

New Bucs offensive coordinator Dave Canales talked up White’s abilities during a February 22 introductory press conference. Canales got a firsthand look a White in his first start with the Bucs against Canales’ former team, the Seattle Seahawks, in Germany.

“Oh yeah, what shocked me about that was the toughness in the style that he ran because I saw him as this versatile guy who you could run routes with him out of the backfield, split him out wide and do some things like that, plus the run game,” Canales told reporters. “But then you see his attitude in person in Germany, just see the style that he ran downhill, he was aggressive, the violence that he played with and you go, ‘Wow, this guy could be special.’ He’s got some great skillset that really fits into our system.”

Canales expects to run the ball more than the Bucs did last season but not for its own sake. The Bucs finished last in the league for total rushing yards, average yards, and touchdowns.

“When I say system, it’s not so much the plays that are run but it’s the marriage of the run and pass and it’s the attacking style that we’re going to be in and out of tempos and multiple,” Canales said. “So that part, really, you plug and play your talent. The plays become the plays but it’s the system that is flexible.”

White is Ready for ‘Something New’

White has been vocal about taking his game to another level and taking hold of the No. 1 job.

He tweeted “that’s old” and “we [are] working on something new” after Canales’ comments. White also teased his number change in the comments below.

White also called out The Draft Network’s J.C. Cornell for tweeting “a little too early to call White a budding star” and the suggestion for the Bucs drafting running back Bijan Robinson at No. 19.

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