TAMPA, Fla. — With so much attention on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ quarterback battle between Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask and some of the early highlights from the wide receivers, the running backs have slid under the radar. But running the ball will play a much bigger role in coordinator Dave Canales’ offense in 2023. There has been a renewed commitment to a more balanced run-pass offense, which should help this group rise from the league’s worst rushing attack.
As far as how many of these players will stick around when it’s time to make final cuts — they’ve kept four running backs on their initial 53-man roster the last two years and in 2020 and 2019, they went with three. In terms of divvying up carries — last year Leonard Fournette and Rachaad White had a 55.1% to 37.8% split on total number of rushes and a 56.6% and 36.2% split on receptions, but that was because White overtook Fournette, who is now gone, for the starting role. This year, White should get roughly 66-70% of the touches as he is currently RB1.
White enjoyed a breakout game in Week 10 last season, became a starter, and hasn’t looked back. While he can play in a number of offensive schemes, the move to a wide zone scheme closely mimics what he played in at Arizona State — a scheme that requires cutback ability, patience and vision to identify and explode through the hole.
White rushed for 481 yards on 129 carries, averaging 3.7 yards per rush with a struggling offensive line last year. He can take a step forward there, as well as ball security, as White had two fumbles during the regular season. Skip Peete, the Bucs running backs coach, can help in that department as his Dallas Cowboys running backs had zero fumbles last season.
“He is just so natural,” Canales said of White. “Everything he does, the run game, the pass game, pass protection and routes. He is really a natural with both hands catching the ball. I think he is going to be fantastic. My part, and our part as a staff, is just making sure that we are able to take advantage of all that skill set that he brings.”