Bucs' Cherilus, Evan Smith get cameos as 'jumbo' blockers
Last year, when the Bucs lost fullback Jorvorskie Lane and assorted tight ends to injuries, they frequently used backup offensive lineman Kevin Pamphile as a sixth lineman or "jumbo" tight end and had success with the look as they sought to assert their running game.
The Bucs hadn't used the jumbo package in the first two games this season, with Pamphile thrust into a starting role at left guard, but when tight end Luke Stocker went down with an ankle injury, Tampa Bay brought it back in Sunday's game against the Rams.
The Bucs' two backup offensive linemen, tackle Gosder Cherilus and guard/center Evan Smith, both saw action as extra blockers, with Smith lining up twice as a 308-pound fullback, and Cherilus lining up on eight plays as a "jumbo" tight end. Those plays accounted for two touchdowns and a 23-yard play, so they were certainly a successful addition to the offense.
"Just a package we put together, wanted to get a big group for the goal line," said Smith, who last lined up as a blocking back with the Packers in 2012. "It's one of those things you put in there, and you don't if it's going to get run in the game or not. Sometimes you throw it in during the week and everyone's like 'Oh, it'd be cool if we ran it' and you have it in for three weeks and never get one chance. But sure enough, first drive we get down there, we go right to it. It was exciting."
The Bucs had a first and goal at the 2-yard line in the second quarter, and lined up with Smith in the backfield and Cherilus on the left as an extra lineman, though Charles Sims was only able to get to the 1-yard line between two runs. On third and goal, with Cherilus again on the left, the Bucs had a nine-man line, with Cherilus and three tight ends lined up -- Sims went in for the touchdown.
"I'm just here to help," Cherilus said Monday. "If they ask you to play jumbo tight end, I'll come in and give these guys their best shot."
As reporters talked to tight end Cameron Brate on Monday, Cherilus walked past and shouted that Brate had stolen a touchdown from him -- sure enough, on Brate's second touchdown catch Sunday, Cherilus was a tackle eligible on the left side, and he blocked and quickly released uncovered to the left, but Winston saw Brate on the right and threw to him for the score.
Cherilus was also in as part of an eight-man line with two tight ends to the right, getting a key block to spring Sims for a 23-yard gain in the fourth quarter.