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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs RB James pleased with ankle recovery



Five months after a promising rookie season ended with a broken ankle, Bucs running back Mike James said he's pleased with his recovery and already running and cutting as he eyes a healthy return for the 2014 season.

"The healing process is going well," James said to reporters in the second week of offseason workouts for the team. "I've got a good opportunity to do what I need to do to get back in the swing of things and get acclimated with everything."

Asked if he'd been fully cleared for the team's first minicamp, James said the team is still "playing it by ear" and "taking everything day by day," but his focus is on getting back to full strength and full speed.

James had stepped up well after a season-ending shoulder injury to Doug Martin -- he rushed for 158 yards and threw a touchdown pass in the Bucs' loss at Seattle, and had rushed for 41 yards against Miami in the team's first win when he injured his ankle. He said as frustrating as the injury was, he understands that it's a risk that comes with playing in a physical sport like football.

"It's the game. It's a tough game, a brutal game. We all know what it's for when we sign up and we take it in stride," he said.

The Bucs had Martin, James and Bobby Rainey all rush for at least 150 yards in games last season, and all should be healthy this fall as new coach Lovie Smith has promised an offense that will start with the run. That's welcome news for James, who sees the competition improving the team's running game regardless of which back is in the game.

"It just raises the level of everybody's competition, makes everybody come out and bring their best every day," he said. "That's what we plan to do, and have a good time doing it."

[Last modified: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 6:03pm]


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