The sixth-year pro was the surprise of the Bucs near-playoff season in 2016, especially considering he didn't seem to be on the team's radar heading into the season. After opening his career with four years in Atlanta as a change-of-pace option, Rodgers spent an uneventful 2015 campaign in Chicago, playing in only five games and seeing only 15 total touches from scrimmage. However, his past Falcons tenure with Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter and others on the team's staff bore fruit once both Doug Martin (hamstring) and Charles Sims (knee) were sidelined during the first four weeks of the 2016 season, as Rodgers was thrust into a starter's role that he ended up thriving in. The Oregon State product opened his stint as the top runner with back-to-back 100-yard outings against the Panthers and 49ers, respectively, and was in the midst of another productive afternoon against the Raiders in Week 8 before succumbing to a foot injury that would sideline him for the following four games. Rodgers eventually returned to a starting role for the final two games of the season after Martin departed the team due to a pending PED suspension, totaling 138 yards and a touchdown on 32 carries and three receptions for 19 yards over that span. The expanded opportunity he saw in 2016 helped Rodgers shatter the third-down back label he'd previously been saddled with, as he carried the ball a combined 56 times over Weeks 5 and 7, while seeing double-digit totes in three other contests as well. He thus heads into the offseason as a potential full-time tailback for the first time in his career, and given his favorable track record with the team's coaching staff, diverse skill set, and Martin's uncertain future, he figures to have a strong chance of returning to Tampa on a potential multi-year deal.
Rodgers gained 75 yards on 17 carries and secured his sole target for four yards in Sunday's 17-16 win over the Panthers.
Rodgers assumed clear-cut lead back duties as expected Sunday, but somewhat surprisingly received less than 20 carries. However, as has often been the case this season, he was productive with his opportunities, posting a solid 4.4 YPC. Heading into the offseason, the running back position for the Bucs is unexpectedly in a relative state of disarray due to Doug Martin's suspension and related personal issues, which thus gives Rodgers a realistic opportunity to return to the team next season in some capacity. Both his history with head coach Dirk Koetter and his strong efforts this season (560 rushing yards, 98 receiving yards) should certainly help bolster his case in this regard.
Rodgers will be the lead back Sunday against the Panthers due to Doug Martin's suspension and Charles Sims' (pectoral) placement on injured reserve, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Martin was curiously inactive in Week 16 and ruled out well in advance of the regular season finale, but his absence went unexplained until Wednesday, when it was revealed he would enter treatment after receiving a four-game ban for a violation of the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances. With Martin out of the picture, Rodgers figured to be the primary beneficiary. However, the upcoming DNP of Sims will place most of the touches afforded Bucs running backs in Rodgers' hands, while the remainder will filter down to Peyton Barber and potentially Russell Hansbrough. On the season, Rodgers has displayed acuity as both a runner and pass-catcher, tallying 112 carries for 485 yards and two touchdowns and gathering in 12 of 15 targets for 94 yards.
The veteran back will thus have an opportunity to build on a solid 15-carry, 63-yard, one-touchdown outing against the Saints in Week 16, a game in which he also notched two receptions for 15 yards. Rodgers tallied a pair of 100-yard efforts in the two games earlier this season when he received over 20 carries, and could be in line for another robust workload in Week 17 against a Panthers team with nothing left to play for.
Rodgers totaled 63 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries in Saturday's 31-24 loss to the Saints. He also secured both of his targets for 15 yards.
Rodgers suddenly found himself as the lead back in a game pivotal to the Bucs' playoff chances when Doug Martin was declared a surprise inactive. As he'd done earlier this season in Martin's stead, Rodgers was more than serviceable, generating solid production with his relatively modest amount of touches. He was the clear early-down back, outpacing backfield mate Charles Sims by 12 carries overall. If Martin is once again sidelined by coach' s decision in Week 17 versus the Panthers, Rodgers will presumably spearhead the Tampa ground attack again.
|2016||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||10||5||129||560||4.3||45||2||3||29|
|2016||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||10||5||13||98||7.5||21||0||1||0||3|
|2016||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||10||0||0||---||0||0||0|
|2016||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||10||2||2.0||0||0||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|
|2016||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||10||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
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