TAMPA — Skip Peete is getting ready for his first season as the Bucs’ running backs coach, but he’s still in touch with people back in Dallas, where he coached the past three years. That includes free-agent running back Ezekiel Elliott, who Peete said Wednesday he just happened to talk to the other night.
That was after Peete had made the case that Elliott, who was cut by the Cowboys in March, still can be an effective running back in the NFL. The Bucs don’t actually have a proven, punishing-type back. Heading into training camp, they have Rachaad White as their featured back, with Chase Edmonds behind him.
“I think Zeke is still a good, quality running back,” Peete said at Advent Health Training Center in Tampa. “He’s playing 50% of the snaps, so your numbers are not the same, that’s natural. But he still scored 12 touchdowns. He still caught the ball well. He still had numerous third-and-1, and short and goal-line places where he helped us win games. He’s still a physical load.”
Peete said Elliott fought the inevitable for a few weeks and then had to accept his new role when the Cowboys turned more regularly to Tony Pollard.
The Bucs, who finished last in rushing touchdowns last season, are revamping their offense under new coordinator Dave Canales after losing quarterback Tom Brady. It will feature more running, and Peete said his plans always have been to use multiple backs to wear down defenses.
Elliott could fit into those plans if he would be willing to accept a lesser role and a smaller paycheck.
“I think that’s part of the reason he’s sitting out there,” Peete said. “If you’re going to play, I mean, you’re going to be the second and third guy. That’s kind of what the price is. So. that’s something that a person has to be able to see that that is what it is going to be.”
Elliott, a four-time 1,000-yard rusher, has just one such season (2021) over his past three. He’s dealt with knee injuries, as well.
Getting in line
Offensive line coach Joe Gilbert indicated that the Bucs are solidifying their line with Tristan Wirfs transitioning from right to left tackle and newly signed free agent Matt Feiler stepping in at left guard.
“We’ve moved Tristan over to the left. And he’s had an unbelievable attitude with it,” Gilbert said. “Every day looks better and better and more comfortable. Obviously, that’s going to be a process. But I think, so far, it’s coming along very well. You put him and Matt Feiler over at left guard, when you line those guys up and (center Ryan) Jensen, it looks pretty good.”
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The 6-foot-6, 330-pound Feiler played more than 3,000 snaps at left guard with the Steelers and Chargers from 2020-22.
When Canales brought Brad Idzik with him from Seattle, he wasn’t just getting a wide receivers coach, but a roommate as well. The Canaleses, including four children and their dog, are crashing with Idzik.
“It’s a little bit more of a full house,” said Idzik, who grew up in Palm Harbor. “I adopted four kids and his wife and his dog and some of their stuff. In Seattle, we lived two blocks away from each other. Beyond being my boss, he’s my friend. We’re family. I am Uncle Brad to his kids.”
Idzik, the son of former Bucs and NFL executive John Idzik, insisted the family stay with him until they find a home in Tampa Bay.
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