Tuesday, September 8, 2009

On Earnest Graham And His Demotion

The starter at tailback for the last two years for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Earnest Graham, is now listed as the third team running back. Cadillac Williams on the other hand is listed as a starter after coming off two season ending knee injuries. In a lot of ways this arrangement doesn't make a lot of sense. But then again there is one possibility that might bring it some clarity in my opinion.

For weeks I have been predicting that the Bucs would cut or trade Cadillac Williams. The reasoning was pretty simple, Caddy would no longer be a starter and thus he would need to be on special teams making plays in order to have worth to the team. Being that Caddy wasn't on any special teams and didn't even play in the first 2 preseason games, it seemed a lock to me that he would be on the way out the door regardless of how well he came back from his injury of last year. But what if the Bucs were thinking the same way? What if they also feel like back up tailbacks have to be able to contribute on special teams? Well then it would make sense to make sure that your back up was also a helluva special teams player.

Earnest Graham after a good career at the University of Florida didn't really get drafted where a lot of people, including himself, thought he would. He ended up having to go the harder route to playing in the NFL which involved some time on the practice squad, some time being deactivated on the active roster, and also some time making his bones on special teams. And really, prior to two years ago, that is how Graham made his name. He would go down on kickoff and punt team and just blow cats up and on punt return and kickoff return he was a tenacious blocker.

So will we see Graham back on special teams?

Well, the thing of it is, if the Bucs ask him to play on special teams, how could he possibly say no? He has a great reputation so far, but such a move by him would appear selfish to people on the outside looking in. And I am pretty sure that the Bucs would put the word out should he balk at such a suggestion.

Now to be sure, I think it sucks because I think in the last two years Graham has shown himself to be of starting quality in this league. To get shoved to the back of the line again seems wrong on a lot of levels. But the truth is I don't see away around it for him if they ask him to do it, especially since he got a good contract just last year.

I think it will be interesting to see how this all plays out. What I do know is that with most teams not keeping even 3 TBs, somebody other than just Clifton Smith is going to have to contribute on special teams.

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