It's still too early in the preseason to declare a starter at some positions, but Bucs coach Dirk Koetter took a step in that that direction Monday at running back.
After an underwhelming performance by rookie Ronald Jones in the preseason opener at Miami on Thursday in which Koetter said the second-round pick from Southern Cal was "average," it appears as though Peyton Barber has a good grip on the position.
"Peyton is our starter," Koetter said Monday. "We're definitely going to use Ronald Jones and take advantage of what he's going to do. We do have the two veteran backs behind him. Again, we've got three more preseason games. Let's just let it sort out a little more."
Barber had four carries for 21 yards and a touchdown Thursday while Jones carried eight times for 9 yards and a score.
Most NFL teams use a committee approach to the running back position and the Bucs will be no exception. In addition to Barber and Jones, they also have three players fighting for the role of third down back: Jacquizz Rodgers, Charles Sims and rookie Shaun Wilson.
"Peyton could be a three-down player if we asked him to," Koetter said. "You know the reason you don't see a whole lot of three down backs in the NFL is because it's hard on them. They get tired and they take a pounding. I don't think any position gets hit more and gets harder than running back in the NFL. Linemen of course are hitting each other on every play. But usually when those backs get hurt, someone has a 10-yard running start. I do not think we'll be going with a three-down back just because I think it's very hard to do. Those guys who that are that in the league are really in an elite status."
Which running back has shown the most improvement? That would be Dare Ogunbowale, who was instrumental on the winning drive vs. Miami. He had seven carries for 15 yards and caught two passes for 18 yards.
"Probably the most improvement is from Dare, No. 44, from a guy we had him for a week on the practice squad last year," Koetter said. "He wasn't with us in OTAs, he's only been with us a couple weeks. From an improvement standpoint, I'm real impressed with how he's picked it up, how he's played at running back and what he's done on special teams. But all those guys are playing fine."