Mike James came through on fourth-and-1 call

It was only 1 yard, but Bucs running back Mike James hadn't had a carry in more than a month, and the result -- converting a fourth-and-1 to set up a go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter of Sunday's loss to the Vikings -- was exactly what James wanted.

"It felt good to come through for my team," said James, who had been limited to special teams work since the third game of the season. "I appreciated them calling my number and the best thing you can be is accountable. I got in and got what we needed."

The Bucs had fullback Jorvorskie Lane out, serving a two-game suspension, so there wasn't a traditional short-yardage option on fourth-and-1 at the Vikings' 8-yard line. He said his role in a short-yardage package hadn't been discussed in practice, but he liked the call.

"It was one of those things where Coach is like 'Go ahead and get in,' and I said 'All right,'" James said. "I enjoy those moments."

James' only carries this season have come when starter Doug Martin is out with injury -- when he missed two games last month, James had 10 carries for 11 yards. James stepped up last year when Martin was lost for the season, rushing for 158 yards and throwing a TD in the Bucs' game at Seattle, but he was lost for the season in the next game against the Dolphins when he suffered a fractured ankle.

His position as the No. 3 running back is in jeopardy as rookie Charles Sims is eligible to return this week after missing two months with an ankle injury, but Martin's current ankle injury could give James another shot to show what he can do.

The Bucs also used 6-foot-5, 283-pound tight end Luke Stocker on a few downs as fullback, and he said he relished his cameo at a position he had played here and there since high school.

"It was a good opportunity for me to go out and get some playing time, to show the coaches another skill set," said Stocker, who logged 18 offensive snaps after totaling 12 in the previous three games. "I felt very comfortable playing fullback. I've played it sparingly, but it's nothing I'm unfamiliar with. Just more opportunities now."

When the Bucs had a fourth-and-1 from their own 43 on the opening drive, they opted for an empty backfield, lining up with three receivers and two tight ends and getting 2 yards for the conversion when quarterback Mike Glennon kept it and follow center Evan Dietrich-Smith and right guard Patrick Omameh to keep the drive alive.

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