TAMPA — Bucs running back Peyton Barber returned to practice as a limited participant on Thursday, making him more likely to play in Sunday’s game at Cincinnati.
Barber missed Wednesday’s practice with an ankle injury, and ran for just 30 yards on 11 carries in last week’s 26-23 overtime win over the Browns.
Rookie Ronald Jones took the majority of the carries in practice Wednesday.
While the Bucs lead the NFL in total offense (449.5 yards per game), they ranked 31st in rushing yards (85.5 per game).
Barber had his best game of the season two weeks ago in Atlanta, rushing for 82 yards on 13 carries for a 6.3-yard average. He was the featured back for Sunday’s game, but his role diminished as the game progresses — clearly in part because of his injury — and he had just one career in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Jones logged a season-high 29 snaps in Sunday’s win over Cleveland and his two-yard run in the third quarter was Tampa Bay’s first rushing touchdown of the season.
Jones continues to get more comfortable with the offense and his snaps continue to increase in practice, but still has yet to be given the opportunity to be a featured back. Asked whether Jones would be ready to carry the brunt of the running back load, Bucs offensive coordinator Todd Monken said that has yet to be seen because he’s never had that chance yet.
“It’s hard to say that because we haven’t put that on him yet,” Monken said. “We haven’t actually said, ‘OK, here you go.’ But that remains to be seen based on how Peyton finishes out the week. … I know there’s a lot of questions when the run game is where it is and you have a high draft pick and some guy with some talent. But he’s only going to continue to get better and he has gotten better in a lot of areas. And we’re excited moving forward to see that.”
Whether it’s Barber or Jones receiving the bulk of the carries on Sunday against the Bengals, the Bucs are looking to get more big-yardage plays on the ground to complement a passing game that is tops in the NFL.
“We talked about it last year,” Monken said. “How do you find a way to, within those four-, five-, six-, three-yard run that you get an explosive run.”
Also of note:
- Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul appeared on Thursday’s injury report as a limited participant because of a rib injury. More clarity on the injury will come, but Pierre-Paul becomes the third Bucs defensive lineman to land on the team’s injury report. Both defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (calf) and end Vinny Curry (ankle) didn’t practice last week, missed the Browns game and have yet to practice this week. Pierre-Paul wasn’t on the injury report for Wednesday’s first practice of the week.
- Offensive tackle Demar Dotson also returned to practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday with knee and shoulder injuries, according to the Bucs’ injury report.
- The Bucs will hold a donation drive for Hurricane Michael relief supplies on Tuesday from noon to 7 p.m. at the Raymond James Stadium Lot 14 on 4201 Himes Ave. The most pressing donation needs are for non-perishable foods, baby items like diapers, wipes and formula, personal hygiene items, tarps, work gloves and school supplies. Current and former Bucs players will be on site.
Reach Eduardo A. Encina at [email protected] Follow @EddieInTheYard.