Saturday, August 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Peyton Barber an intriguing running back option for Bucs

TAMPA

Peyton Barber is almost painfully shy, and he doesn’t waste much time filling reporter’s notebooks. If he is asked a question, he will answer it, brief and to the point. His running style is similarly direct.

At 5-11, 225 pounds, Barber unloads some Mack truck hits on would-be tacklers. His compass is always pointing north-south. The lack of flash may be why he has largely been overlooked on most teams he has played for until something happens and he gets his chance, like he did Sunday in the Bucs’ 26-20 overtime loss to the Packers.

Barber rushed for 102 yards on 23 carries, becoming the first Bucs running back to break the century plateau this season. The Bucs finished with a season-high 165 yards rushing despite a patchwork offensive line missing two starters and down to its third center.

"That’s something that I’ve dealt with my whole life pretty much from PAL ball to middle school to high school to college," Barber said. "Once I get my shot, nine time out of 10 I take advantage of my opportunity. I don’t know. I’m not the flashiest player but at the same time, I produce."

Barber’s need to produce for his family is why he left Auburn with two years of eligibility remaining. In part, it was to provide a home for his mother, Lori, who was living with her daughter and three grandchildren in a small apartment in Georgia. But his 1,017 rushing yards for Auburn in the 2015 season wasn’t enough to get him drafted, so he signed as a college free agent with the Bucs.

Barber had been stuck at fourth on the depth chart behind Doug Martin, Jacquizz Rodgers and Charles Sims.

Martin’s concussion prevented him from playing Sunday, and given his contract situation and Barber’s success, it seems unlikely Martin will be with the Bucs next season. Martin has three years remaining on a five-year, $35.75 million contract. But the last three seasons of the deal are not guaranteed, so it seems unlikely the Bucs want to pay him $6.75 million for 2018 when he will be 29 years old.

Could Barber, 23, be the answer to the Bucs’ struggles in the ground game?

"When Peyton has gone in there on a limited basis, he’s done okay," coach Dirk Koetter said Monday. "That, coupled with Doug being out, led to him getting more, and you know, you see a lot of times a running back gets into a little bit of a groove and it’s one of those days where he’s making yards. As long as you can do it efficiently, you keep feeding him."

On Sunday, Barber moved piles like a backhoe, tallying 68 of his yards after contact. He had 23 of the Bucs’ 30 running back carries Sunday. He also caught all four passes thrown to him and had a team-high 41 receiving yards.

"We did a pretty good job of run blocking," Koetter said. "Not perfect, but we did a pretty good job of run blocking but left some out there. The best thing Peyton did is he made yards after contact and broke some tackles."

So what now?

First, the Bucs have to learn when Martin will be out of the concussion protocol and able to resume playing. Then they have a decision to make.

Either Martin goes back to being the No. 1 tailback and getting the bulk of the rushing attempts, or they go to a committee approach to keep both players involved. Then you have to consider that Rodgers and Sims offer some help on third down.

Nothing Barber does this last month would necessarily prevent the Bucs from drafting a running back next year. But they may not feel the urgency to do it in the early rounds.

In the meantime, Barber expects to just keep plowing straight ahead.

Comments
Jameis Winston vs. Marcus Mariota: The stats that matter

Jameis Winston vs. Marcus Mariota: The stats that matter

Yeah, but …Every Jameis Winston-Marcus Mariota debate is full of them.Winston has completed more passes (939), gained more passing yards (11,636) and thrown more passing touchdowns (69) before his age 24 season than any quarterback in NFL histo...
Updated: 4 hours ago
From Hawaii to the honky-tonk: Nashville’s in love with Marcus Mariota

From Hawaii to the honky-tonk: Nashville’s in love with Marcus Mariota

NASHVILLE — Ten thousand blue leis were distributed to Titans fans for the NFL draft on the day their team picked Marcus Mariota.The 2014 Heisman Trophy winner wasn't even at Nissan Stadium for the party, which drew a crowd of 20,000. But the w...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Talking with Titans GM Jon Robinson

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Talking with Titans GM Jon Robinson

Rick Stroud sits down with Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson, who served as the Bucs' Director of Player Development under Jason Licht and was in Tampa Bay when the team scouted Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota prior to the 2015 NFL Draf...
Published: 08/17/18
Titans GM Jon Robinson sees playmakers everywhere for the Bucs

Titans GM Jon Robinson sees playmakers everywhere for the Bucs

Jon Robinson was in Tampa Bay when he and Bucs and general manager Jason Licht began assembling the team that came to practice with the Titans this week.The Titans GM still thinks highly of the players he helped the Bucs acquire, such as Kwon Alexand...
Published: 08/17/18
Catching up with the guy who’s been on both sides of Winston-Mariota

Catching up with the guy who’s been on both sides of Winston-Mariota

NASHVILLE — Jon Robinson knew being the general manager of the Titans meant almost every decision would pass by his desk."I got into this for football,'' Robinson said. "And now I'm trying to buy vacuum cleaners.''The Titans' kicker is Ryan Suc...
Published: 08/16/18
Bucs sign former Panthers DT Drew Iddings, waived Stevie Tu’ikolovatu injured

Bucs sign former Panthers DT Drew Iddings, waived Stevie Tu’ikolovatu injured

One Bucs player will be departing Nashville before the team does.Defensive tackle Stevie Tu'ikolovatu, a seventh-round pick from Southern Cal in 2017, was waived injured Thursday. Tu'ikolovatu suffered what is believed to be a triceps injury.The Bucs...
Published: 08/16/18
Titans cornerback flips after two interceptions against Bucs

Titans cornerback flips after two interceptions against Bucs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee cornerback Adoree Jackson was flipping for joy after a couple of interceptions defending Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and the rest of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 18th pick overall in 2017 by the Titans, Jackson celebrated...
Published: 08/16/18
The best answer to the Winston-Mariota debate

The best answer to the Winston-Mariota debate

Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota? The great debate of Tampa Bay football.Who would you rather have? That is and always will be the burning question of Tampa Bay football fans.Winston and Mariota will be forever linked. For as long as they play, we wi...
Published: 08/16/18
How the Bucs did Luke Stocker a real favor

How the Bucs did Luke Stocker a real favor

NASHVILLE — Tight end Luke Stocker got to see how the other half lives.After being released by the Bucs last Nov. 28, Stocker signed a two-year contract with the Titans and enjoyed one of his best months in pro football.Stocker played in t...
Published: 08/16/18
Ali Marpet making move to left guard appear easy, and a big pay day awaits

Ali Marpet making move to left guard appear easy, and a big pay day awaits

NASHVILLE — Ali Marpet's move to left guard, his third position in as many years, has been pretty seamless. A big reason for that is his close relationship with left tackle Donovan Smith.Both came to the Bucs as second-round picks in 2015, Smit...
Published: 08/16/18