Rodgers is listed as the second running back ahead of 2018 second-round pick Ronald Jones II on the initial version of the regular-season depth chart, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
The veteran has seen his fortunes significantly improve since late last month, after his roster spot was far from guaranteed in the early part of preseason. The first domino to fall was backfield mate Charles Sims' season-ending knee injury, which created an opening for a pass-catching back. That's a description that dovetails well with Rodgers' skill set, but the fact he's also now slotted in ahead of Jones to open the season is particularly noteworthy. Rodgers carried out a traditional running back role on multiple occasions in 2016 while filling in for Doug Martin, even logging 56 carries over a two-game period at one point. Therefore, his No. 2 designation appears legitimate, with Rodgers seemingly in line for a modest but steady workload behind starter Peyton Barber that should include more than just outlet passes out of the backfield.
Rodgers' chances of securing a spot on the 53-man roster naturally went up with the upcoming season-long absence of one of his main competitors for a backup running back job. Moreover, Rodgers' skill set and experience also likely make him the first man up in terms of directly filling Sims' role, which was primarily that of a pass-catching back. He hasn't had much of a chance to show it during his first two seasons in Tampa, but Rodgers was one of the better pass-catching backs in the league during the 2012 and 2013 campaigns in Atlanta, compiling a total of 105 receptions and logging a trio of receiving touchdowns over that span. He also has the ability to mix in on early downs as a rusher and is arguably a more instinctive runner than Sims, so Rodgers could be in for a solid workload when factoring in multiple roles.
Rodgers is part of a Tampa Bay backfield that added Ronald Jones with the 38th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, NFL.com's Herbie Teope reports.
The Bucs released Doug Martin in February, but they re-signed pass-catching specialist Charles Sims last week, shortly before adding an element of explosiveness with Jones. The team also brings back Peyton Barber, who closed out the 2017 season with five straight performances featuring at least 12 carries, 51 rushing yards and 3.9 yards per carry. Rodgers had only six touches on offense in that same stretch, getting most of his snaps on special teams. He'll may need to compete for a spot during training camp and probably won't have a major role on offense even if he cracks the 53-man roster again.
The veteran back finished the 2017 campaign with just 73 total touches from scrimmage, a notably modest workload considering he'd been the de facto lead back for the first three games of the season while Martin finished serving a PED suspension. Rodgers had logged a career-high 129 carries in his first Bucs season in 2016 while filling in as the backfield workhorse for multiple contests in the wake of a Martin hamstring injury. With a reasonable $1.6 million cap hit in 2018 and plenty of versatility, Rodgers projects as a candidate to compete with Peyton Barber for the top running back spot, although the team is highly likely to bring in multiple reinforcements at the position through free agency and/or April's draft.
Rodgers did not log any rushing touches but brought in both of his targets for 20 yards in Sunday's 31-24 win over the Saints. He also returned one kickoff for 17 yards.
The veteran back's 20 yards from scrimmage represented his highest figure since Week 13, but as was the norm in the final month of the campaign, he was a complete non-factor in the running game. After playing the role of de facto lead back over the first three games of the season while Doug Martin finished serving a PED suspension, Rodgers was a virtual afterthought on most weeks. The 27-year-old is on the books for $1.6 million next season in what will be the final year of a two-year pact, but he could be conceivably be jettisoned in the offseason if the team opts to re-stock the position in free agency and/or the draft.
|4||9/30/18||@ CHI||1:00 pm|
|Bye: Week 5|
|6||10/14/18||@ ATL||1:00 pm|
|8||10/28/18||@ CIN||1:00 pm|
|9||11/4/18||@ CAR||1:00 pm|
|11||11/18/18||@ NYG||1:00 pm|
|15||12/16/18||@ BAL||1:00 pm|
|16||12/23/18||@ DAL||1:00 pm|
|2016||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||10||5||129||560||4.3||45||2||3||29|
|2017||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||4||64||244||3.8||36||1||1||11|
|2018||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||2||0||7||14||2.0||7||0||0||1|
|2016||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||10||5||13||98||7.5||21||0||1||0||3|
|2017||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||4||9||74||8.2||15||0||0||0||4|
|2018||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||2||0||4||25||6.3||13||0||0||0||0|
|2016||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||10||0||0||---||0||0||0|
|2017||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||11||255||23.2||45||0||1|
|2018||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||2||0||0||---||0||0||0|
|2016||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||10||2||2.0||0||0||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|
|2017||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||4||3.0||1||0||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|
|2018||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||2||0||0.0||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|
|2017||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|2018||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|