TAMPA — Jorvorskie Lane rumbled out of the backfield on a wheel route during a recent camp workout at One Buc Place, hauled in a short pass from quarterback Josh McCown and raced into an open field down the right sideline.
The 5-foot-11, 258-pound fullback prospect wound up pounding out more than 20 yards before two defenders could steer him out of bounds. But for Lane, there was a lot more than big yards to be gained from that play.
A former Texas A&M tailback, Lane has spent the past five years trying to land and keep an NFL job — and plays like that might finally allow him to achieve his objective with the Buccaneers.
“That would be great,'' Lane said. “I mean, it has been a pretty rough ride for me the last couple of years.''
Rough might be an understatement. Lane came out of Texas A&M following his senior season in 2009 and despite posting some impressive college numbers (461 carries, 2,090 yards, 49 touchdowns), he has been a football vagabond since.
His first stop on what has become a taxing and circuitous route to the NFL was Odessa, Texas, where he spent the 2010 season playing for the West Texas Roughnecks of the virtually invisible Indoor Football League.
A year later, after going back to A&M and participating in the Aggies' pro day, Lane achieved at least a small part of his goal by increasing his visibility with NFL scouts. He didn't do it in the way he'd hoped, though.
Lane showed up for that pro day weighing 277 pounds and looking more like a guard than a running back. Though that didn't impress the NFL scouts too much, there were some Arena League scouts who took notice.
Though it wasn't what he was hoping for, Lane's pro day workout earned him a chance to play with the AFL's Orlando Predators. And it was there, during the 2011 season, that he caught the favorable eye of a Miami Dolphins scout.
The fact that, even at 277 pounds, he could run a 4.87 40-yard dash might have helped tip the scales in Lane's favor. No matter the reason, though, he made the most of the chance the Dolphins gave him in 2012.
After joining the team in June, Lane dropped some weight (nearly 20 pounds), stuck through training camp and wound up playing 16 games, running 13 times for 13 yards and two touchdowns and catching 11 passes for 79 yards and one touchdown.
Less than a year later, though, perhaps as a result of the three fumbles he recorded while touching the ball just 24 times the year before, Lane was back on the street again.
He stayed there for a year and a half this time, working part time as a personal trainer for 24-Hour Fitness, but mostly working on keeping his weight in check and improving his football skills.
“I was fortunate that (Dolphins director of player engagement) Kaleb Thornhill had done a great job with the rookies showing us how to save money, so I was still able to focus mostly on football,'' Lane said.
Lane's focus helped bring the NFL back into view when the result of a few tryouts led to the Bucs signing him on April 1 as a free agent. Now, one of the best opportunities of his career is at hand.
Lane has been taking the majority of the first-team reps at fullback this preseason. Though the Bucs don't have a lot of use for a traditional fullback, Lane is doing what he can to make sure they do have a use for him.
“I can catch the ball,'' Lane said. “That's a good asset to my game. So that's another part of the offense that I can be a part of. Really, though, I can do whatever they want me to do.
“If they want me to play kicker, I'll learn it. I'll deep snap, I'll block, I'll do anything. I'm just a football player. So wherever they need me, whatever they want me to do, I'll do it.''
He just might get that chance. Bucs coach Lovie Smith says he's taken note of Lane's versatility and has been impressed by a lot of what the 27-year-old Lufkin, Texas, native can do and has done in camp.
“He's a big guy, but he can do some things,'' Smith said. “He's a big guy with great feet. He'll tell you he's been a tailback all of his life, but I think he's more of a fullback.''
And there are at least a couple of things fullbacks need to do. They need to be able to catch the ball out of the backfield; they need to be able to block and they need to be able help out on special teams.
Lane already has proven he can catch the ball. And he proved during another workout last week that he can block, delivering a stunning blow during a goal-line drill that allowed Doug Martin to score a touchdown.
As for special teams, Lane's unusual speed for a man his size should be an asset. He describes himself as a patient man, but his sojourn to the NFL is one that will test even the most patient of men.
“You know, I had that shot in Miami, but it just wasn't my time,'' Lane said. “That's how I look at it. It wasn't my time. So I had a choice after that to rise up or continue to fall and I chose to keep fighting.
“That's what I am. I'm a fighter. I always have been. Yeah, it's been rough, but I can't look at it that way. You have to just keep looking for your next opportunity and now I've got one with the Bucs.
“I intend to take full advantage of it.''