James was running the ball down the Miami Dolphins’ throat on the opening drive, gashing them for 41 yards on five carries. But he went down with an ankle injury near the goal line and was carted off:
Brian Leonard, who was the No. 2 back behind James, became the primary ball carrier after the injury.
Leonard was a second-round pick by the St. Louis Rams in 2007 and played for Greg Schiano at Rutgers during his college career. He served mostly as a fullback during his NFL career and has been an effective receiver out of the backfield. He’s not an ideal player to carry the load, but the Bucs felt confident enough in him to give him the pill after James’ injury.
Leonard has never carried the ball more than 86 times in a season (that was in his rookie season). Bobby Rainey is the team’s other running back, but he didn’t see nearly as much action as Leonard, though he did break a touchdown. The Bucs’ offense is starting to look somewhat better, so their running back spot has some value.
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