Bucs WR Humphries glad to be in­volved in run game, too.

WR Adam Humphries shows prom­ise taking a pitch in back­field.

Tampa Bay Times - - Sports - BY ED­UARDO A. ENCINA Times Staff Writer Con­tact Ed­uardo A. Encina at eencina@tam­pabay.com. Fol­low @Ed­dieInTheYard.

TAMPA — It was just one play on the Bucs’ first touch­down drive of a long af­ter­noon in Carolina, but it was a valu­able clue as to one way Tampa Bay might add life to its rush­ing at­tack and bal­ance to its of­fense.

Even amid all that pass-catch­ing talent, how about giv­ing a speedy slot re­ceiver an op­por­tu­nity to run the ball out?

That’s what the Bucs did on their first play of the sec­ond quar­ter, trail­ing by two touch­downs and look­ing to move the ball in the red zone. From a four-re­ceiver, empty-back­field set, they moved Adam Humphries in mo­tion to the left of quar­ter­back Ryan Fitz­patrick in the shot­gun.

Fitz­patrick took the snap and pitched to Humphries, who had open space along the left side. He re­ceived a block from tackle Dono­van Smith and gained 7 yards to the 4.

It was just the sec­ond time this sea­son that Humphries has run the ball out of the back­field — he had a 4-yard run against Pitts­burgh in Week 3 — but putting the ball in Humphries’ hands in the back­field adds a wrin­kle that keeps de­fenses hon­est when the Bucs line up in a four-wide set.

“Every game, there’s a play in there,” Bucs coach Dirk Koet­ter said. “By your for­ma­tion or your group ten­den­cies, some­times you’re just try­ing to do some­thing dif­fer­ent. We al­ways do.”

To­day’s NFL is lean­ing on mul­ti­di­men­sional of­fen­sive threats: Ex­plo­sive run­ning backs who are as dynamic pass re­ceivers as they are rush­ers like Carolina’s Chris­tian McCaffrey or New Or­leans’ Alvin Ka­mara.

So if the Bucs’ strength is its re­ceiv­ing corps, and they’d like to bal­ance it with an more re­spect to the run­ning game, why not let one of their best re­ceivers run the ball out of the back­field.

“Ob­vi­ously, that’s cool to see the coaches have con­fi­dence in me to get in the back­field and ex­e­cute the play,” said Humphries, who had a ca­reer­high two re­ceiv­ing touch­downs and 82 yards in a 42-28 loss at Carolina on Sun­day. “Our coaches do a re­ally good job of play­ing to ev­ery­one’s strengths on our of­fense and putting peo­ple in the right po­si­tion to be suc­cess­ful.

Humphries has just eight ca­reer rushes in his fouryear NFL ca­reer, and he only had 10 car­ries in four col­lege sea­sons at Clem­son, but he had dou­ble-digit rush­ing touch­downs in both his ju­nior and se­nior years of high school out­side Spar­tan­burg, S.C.

“I do feel com­fort­able back there when­ever they ask me to do it,” Humphries said. “We had worked on that. I was ex­pect­ing it to get called even­tu­ally. We’ll work dif­fer­ent looks for my­self and dif­fer­ent play­ers each and every week. Some weeks it doesn’t get called. Some weeks it does. I was able to get seven yards on that, so maybe we’ll see more of it. Who knows?”

The Bucs en­ter Sun­day’s home game against Wash­ing­ton lead­ing the NFL with 356.6 pass­ing yards per game. Their 90.1 rush­ing yards a game rank 29th of 32 teams. Tampa Bay is av­er­ag­ing just 3.77 yards per carry, which ranks 28th.

One only need look at last week’s game to see Humphries’ run­ning po­ten­tial. Of Humphries’ 82 re­ceiv­ing yards on Sun­day, 53 were af­ter the catch. Most of those — 24 of them — came on his 30-yard touch­down re­cep­tion, a play in which Humphries lined up on the out­side, caught an in­side slant route pass and dodged two tack­lers be­fore taking an­other into the end zone.

“Some­times he’s not open and you don’t get him the ball. Other times it presents it­self,” of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Todd Monken said. “It worked out well for Adam.”

So will the Bucs look to give Humphries more op­por­tu­ni­ties out of the back­field?

“Pos­si­bly,” said Monken, the team’s of­fen­sive play­caller. “Some of the things we’re do­ing with four re­ceivers on the field, I think you have to uti­lize him in dif­fer­ent ways.”

As­so­ci­ated Press

Adam Humphries is tack­led by Pan­thers de­fen­sive back Cap­tain Mun­ner­lyn. Humphries is a bright spot catch­ing and run­ning the ball in Tampa Bay’s loss.

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