TAMPA – Just as they have at middle linebacker, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers likely will be forced to go with inexperience at the backup running back position.
Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, the former No. 1 draft pick who overcame two career-threatening knee injuries to become the Bucs' third-down specialist last season, has agreed to a one-year contract with the St. Louis Rams, according to a Rams spokesman.
That may force the Bucs to go with seldom-used Kregg Lumpkin as their third-down back this year if they opt to keep veteran Earnest Graham at fullback.
The situation is similar to the one the Bucs have created at middle linebacker, where second-year pro Tyrone McKenzie and rookie Mason Foster are battling for the starting job following the departure of four-year starter Barrett Ruud, who signed a one-year deal with the Titans on Saturday.
Lumpkin has been in the league for three years, the first two with Green Bay, but he has just six touches (two carries, four pass catches) to his credit.
Lumpkin has been getting the majority of the work at the backup running back spot in workouts so far at Bucs training camp. Rookie Allen Bradford, a sixth-round pick out of USC, is also getting a look at that spot, and the team has not ruled out the possibility of veteran Earnest Graham filling that role.
In fact, Bucs offensive coordinator Greg Olson said this week that if the Bucs had a game this week, Graham would be his choice for the backup spot.
Long term, however, the Bucs said they would need second-year fullback Erik Lorig to step as a fill-in for Graham at that position, and Lorig left the team's first padded practice on Monday before the workout began and didn't return after apparently suffering a lower left leg injury.
Williams spent the first six years of his career in Tampa Bay, where he had 3,677 yards rushing with 20 touchdowns and 134 receptions for 909 yards and four scores despite missing most of two seasons with serious knee injuries.
His best season was his rookie year, when he ran for 1,178 yards and six TDs.
In 2010, Williams had 437 yards rushing and two TDs and caught a career-high 46 passes with one score.