Mike James

Bucs waive third-year RB Mike James

The Bucs have waived third-year running back Mike James, who had been inactive for all three games this season after serving only as a short-yardage back last year. No corresponding addition has been announced yet.

James, 24, was drafted by the Bucs in the sixth round out of Miami in 2013, and of his 332 career rushing yards, 283 came in a four-game stretch his rookie year when starter Doug Martin went down with injury. James rushed 28 times for 158 yards in a loss at Seattle, but had lost that backup role to Charles Sims and Bobby Rainey last season.

James rushed 19 times for 37 yards last year, and was left inactive all three weeks this season. His move doesn't necessarily suggest a new running back coming in, but more likely an addition to offset an injury -- cornerbacks Johnthan Banks and Tim Jennings had knee injuries Sunday, though it's unknown if either will be sidelined this week.

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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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Mike James Limited

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Mike James was limited because of a shoulder injury, it is unclear whether he will play this week.

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Mike James returns to a crowded Bucs RB field, but he's flexible

TAMPA — Mike James said he never played quarterback, even while growing up in Haines City.

But when the Bucs running back was asked to take a pitch during Friday night's practice and find receiver Vincent Jackson in the end zone, James' throw was spot-on for a 17-yard touchdown; it evoked memories of his jump-pass touchdown against Seattle last season.

"Whatever the coaches need me to do, I'll do it," James said with his constant smile. "Whether it's run through the wall, or push the bus, I'll do it."

James, 23, will need that do-anything attitude as he's battling for a spot in a five-deep backfield. With Pro Bowl player Doug Martin, Bobby Rainey, rookie Charles Sims and former Gators star Jeff Demps also vying for touches, James has quietly made plays while taking third-team reps in training camp.

"It's so much competition, it's to the point to where you look at all these backs, it's like, 'Goodness,' '' James said. "It's almost like we're stingy, we've got so many good backs."

It wasn't too long ago that James was the back for the Bucs. Last season, the sixth-round pick from the University of Miami emerged after Martin suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 7 against Atlanta. Two weeks later, James rushed for 158 yards against the Super Bowl champion Seahawks — his first 100-yard game since high school — while adding the first touchdown pass of his life. He had made it, and was the talk of the town. But in the next game, on the big-stage of Monday Night Football against the Dolphins at Raymond James Stadium, the dream ended. He gashed the Dolphins for 41 yards on his first six carries, taking the Bucs to the goal line, where another player fell on his foot, fracturing his left ankle.

"At first I didn't believe it was broken, because I got back up and walked on it," James said. "Tough break, but that's okay. God's plan always works out well for me, so I expect the best from here on out."

While on crutches, watch some Bucs games from home, James found perspective raising his now 14-month-old son Michael James III. His wife and college sweetheart, Aubrey, was his rock. Both Michael and Aubrey were at a recent practice at One Buc Place. Afterward, he took off his pads and held up his energetic son, who played with a miniature football.

"Thank God I was able to come back and still be able to walk," James said. "It's a lot of things that got put in perspective. I feel like it's made me a better man."

And, he hopes, a better back. James shed 17 pounds during the offseason, now 5 feet 11 and 223 pounds, dropping down to 9 percent body fat, wanting to be leaner and more explosive.

"I feel great," he said. "Better than ever."

James is a physical runner, almost always falling forward, who wants to bring "more of a slasher element to the offense." What works in his favor, along with his success last season, is he can play special teams.

"He's a good football player," coach Lovie Smith said. "He's got good size, of course that injury set him back a little bit, but he's one of our running backs. We've made it known we'll play more than one, and you need a lot. To be a good running football team, we need more than one good player, and we feel like we have at least four we feel like if we went into a game with them, we could have a good running game."

James is always striving to get better, on and off the field. He plans to get his contractor's license, to do some work "on the side." At home, he's Mr. Fix-it, troubleshooting the family's dishwasher the other day and putting together Michael's toys.

"I'm enjoying it," he said. "My wife did everything (when I was hurt), and now I'm back to it. All the good stuff."

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Bucs RB Mike James Not Forgotten

Even a guy walking around with a white cane can see the Bucs have a loaded backfield. Doug Martin, Charles Sims, Bobby Rainey, Jeff Demps.

Oh, yeah. And Mike James. Maybe you remember him?

The same guy who ran for 158 yards against eventual Super Bowl champion Seattle last season?

For a while, it seemed easy to forget James was on the team, as he missed a good chunk of last season with a broken ankle, having played in but five games.
Bucs coach Lovie Smith, since the combine, rarely uttered his name (never a good thing). James has also been hard to find at practice, often relegated to working with the third team. Those are a bad combination for a player’s future.

Today, Bucs coach Lovie Smith broke his silence about James, a native of Haines City, mainly because Lovie was directly asked about James.

“I saw from last year, [he is a] good football player,” Lovie said. “Good size. Of course, that injury [last season] kind of set him back a little bit. But he’s one of our running backs. We’ve made it known that we’re going to play more than one. You need a lot. In order for us to be a good running football team, we need to have more than one good player, and we feel like we have at least about four that we feel like if we went into a game with them, we could have a good running game.”

So is James one of the chosen ones? At best, he would be the No. 3 running back behind Martin and Sims. But James could also find himself down the totem pole below Rainey and Demps.

Time will tell, of course. It would behoove James to shine in preseason games if he plans on staying on the Bucs roster.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers may cut Mike James

The NFL offseason is here and as a result we’re going to start hearing the names of players who are on the bubble and in danger of being cut.

Down in Tampa Bay, new head coach Lovie Smith is trying to figure out the players he thinks gives his team the best chance to rebound in 2014 and return the Bucs to the glory it seems they experienced eons ago. This may mean making some tough decisions including cutting a player who has only been with the team for one season.

According to mark Cook from Pewter Report, the Buccaneers may end up cutting Mike James despite the alright year he had with them as a rookie in 2013.
The problem for James in 2014 is the number of backs on the roster, including Tampa Bay selecting one with their third-round pick this year in Charles Sims. The former West Virginia standout has exceptional hands; something pointed out by head coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht on a number of occasions.

James may not be a huge name but he’s a guy who a lot of teams might want to have on their roster as a backup or a tandem back. He had a great game against a stout Seattle Seahawks defense in 2013 and that right there might be enough of an audition to get him a job should the Buccaneers decide to cut him this summer.

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Mike James Takes Part In Cut for a Cure

Mike James had his head shaved for the first time in his life on Tuesday, and afterward he didn't even ask for a mirror. He didn't need to see how he looked; instead, he was picturing his own son's face.

James, a second-year running back and the father of one-year-old Michael James III, was one of 19 Tampa Bay Buccaneer players who took part in the Pediatric Cancer Foundation’s Fifth Annual Bright House Networks Cut for a Cure Charity Challenge after practice on Tuesday. The goal of the event was to raise $20,000 to add to the nearly $280,000 the Cut for a Cure initiative has generated so far this year and aid in the PCF's efforts to provide medical research, programming and pediatric care for children and their families fighting pediatric cancer and blood disorders.

James was only doing what he hoped others would do if his son ever needed the community's help.

"Being around kids who have had a setback in life, who have had to struggle with an unfortunate disease, it touches my heart very deeply," he said. "Anything I can do to help push them forward, to show them that it's everybody that cares – men, women, adult, children – I want to show them that as much as I can. I have a son and it hits home with me. My son is healthy, thank God, but if he wasn't I would want somebody to show him that we're all here to support him."

A total of 20 Buccaneer staff members also sat down in the makeshift barber chairs in the One Buccaneer Place media studio on Tuesday to submit to the clippers. Chief Operating Officer Brian Ford and Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy were among the dozens who adopted the close-shaved look in order to support the cause. Kicker Connor Barth participated for the second year in a row and was pleased to see the young cancer patients who were on hand to help with the buzz cuts, some of whom he remembered from the 2013 event.

"These kids, you see them with the smiles on their faces. My buddy Josh was having a ball over there, and I just want him to know how much the Bucs care about him. It's an inspiration to us, because what we do is nothing compared to what they have to do, what they have to fight for. This is a great cause.

"Like Brian Ford said, they're the real heroes, the kids. They just want to be normal kids and have a normal life, and we just want to show the support we have for them. We want them to know that it's cool to have no hair. I love it – I can just get up and roll out of bed!"

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Mike James gained muscle, recovering well

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers showed off some excellent depth at the running back position last season, as they were able to recover from two season-ending injuries to their top two backs. Doug Martin was the every-down, workhorse back and face of the offense to start the season after his excellent rookie year, but he tore his labrum relatively early in the season and was replaced by rookie Mike James.

The Miami product always looked solid, but now he looks like a guy who could blossom after impressively racking up 295 yards on 60 carries (4.9 YPC) before breaking his ankle in mid-November. Bobby Rainey showed some flashes replacing him and Brian Leonard wasn’t an awful fourth guy on the depth chart overall, so the Buccaneers can definitely feel confident about their RB situation going forward, especially with Martin leading the way and James behind him.

620 WDAE’s Bucs beat writer Tom Krasniqi tweeted that he recently spoke with James, and he added that James “looks bigger” after adding some more muscle. The running back told Krasniqi that “he’s coming along well” from surgery to repair his broken ankle, so it sounds like he’s ready to threaten for some significant snaps behind Martin in a new-look Buccaneers offense that will feature a revamped line, Josh McCown at quarterback, and possibly Mike Evans replacing Mike Williams as the WR opposite of Vincent Jackson.

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Mike James has fractured ankle

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers officially lost running back Doug Martin for the rest of the season this week when they placed him on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

Martin’s replacement is now injured as well.

Mike James left Monday night’s game against the Miami Dolphins on the Buccaneers’ opening possession after going down with an ankle injury. James had to be carted off the field and was replaced by Bobby Rainey and Brian Leonard.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, X-rays revealed a fractured ankle for James. The full extent of the injury is not yet known and James is going through further testing to determine the damage. Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano confirmed the injury in his post-game press conference.

James had been impressive in his last two games before the injury. James carried 28 times for 158 yards as Tampa Bay rushed for 205 yards in total against the Seattle Seahawks last week. James had already carried five times for 41 yards on the Buccaneers’ opening drive before doing down with the injury.

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Mike James can do it all for Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Not much has gone right for the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season, but amid the muck of an eight-game skid, a gem has been unearthed.

One year after drafting the hard-running Doug Martin, the Bucs have another rookie back playing inspired football down the stretch.

Mike James, a sixth-round pick out of Miami -- starting in place of the injured Martin -- blistered Seattle's defense for 158 yards on the ground in Sunday's overtime loss to the Seahawks. To the naked eye, he looked as good as Martin has all season.

We first noticed James in Tampa's Week 7 loss the Falcons. He was an asset in pass protection, throwing himself in front of Desmond Trufant's corner blitz to give Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon that extra second to unleash this pass to Vincent Jackson.

We've seen plenty of young backs get benched because they can't help on passing downs, but James shows promise. On Sunday, he also ran with purpose, often right into the second wave of Seattle's defense.

It's frustrating to watch a runner who bounces around in the backfield, unable to make a decision (we're looking at you, Trent Richardson). But James showed opposite traits against the Seahawks.

"One of the things that was the most promising, there were no negative plays, no negative runs," coach Greg Schiano said Monday. "It was all positive runs, whether it was a gain of 1 (yard), it was still no second-and-11s, -12s, -13s, as far as related to the run game. I think that's what gave us a chance early on. We put ourselves in manageable third downs in the first half and we converted them."

The Seahawks overcame a 21-0 deficit largely because Tampa's pass game is a big bowl of vanilla ice cream. Their route combinations are bland and, Glennon, like the rookie he is, is taking off to run when an ounce of pocket patience would make all the difference.

The Bucs helped Glennon early by using James creatively. They targeted the back on a direct snap in the first half before allowing him to operate as a master of disguise on our favorite play of the game:


The Bucs have their issues, but Martin's injury has led to the discovery of another solid young runner. We'll find out soon enough how Schiano plans to use them both. It's one of the few good problems Tampa has right now.

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WATCH Mike James throws jump-pass touchdown to Tom Crabtree

Tampa Bay running back Mike James rushed for 158 yards in the Week 9 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks. While James didn't find the end zone he did average 5.6 yards per carry against the Seahawks defense. It was a big improvement over the 3.6 yards per carry average he took into the game. James doesn't have a rushing touchdown on the year but he does add some value in the passing game.

Fantasy impact: Doug Martin is still sidelined with a shoulder injury that will ultimately require surgery and with James coming on you would think the Buccaneers would put him on injured reserved. James will retain the lead back role and is a must start right now. The Buccaneers face the Miami Dolphins in Week 10 on Monday Night Football. The Dolphins are giving up the 4th most fantasy points to running backs.


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Mike James assumes role as Buccaneers' lead back

RB Mike James, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

With the announcement that Doug Martin is done for the season, James will assume the role as lead back for the Buccaneers. In fact, he is the only viable back for Tampa Bay, so he immediately projects to get the ball 15-20 times per game. He is also an excellent receiver out of the backfield, so look for him to get plenty of targets as well. James will be the starter for the balance of the season, and is deserving of the top pick on this week's waiver wire.

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Mike James has slow 3rd preseason game

Rookie RB Mike James rushed seven times for 17 yards in the Bucs' third preseason game Saturday night.
He's at 28 preseason carries for 113 yards (4.04 YPC) and four catches. James looked like the favorite for backup duties behind Doug Martin after the second preseason game, but FB/RB Brian Leonard played tailback ahead of him Saturday night and was arguably better. While James has intriguing potential, we wouldn't waste a fantasy pick trying to handcuff Martin at this point.

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Mike James Performing Very Well

TAMPA — Everyone at One Buc Place knows Doug Martin is the man when it comes to running the football.

But through two preseason games, the men behind Martin are busy making defenders miss and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coaches take notice.

Rookie Mike James and veterans Peyton Hillis and Brian Leonard are some of the most impressive players on the roster heading into Saturday night’s third exhibition matchup at Miami, where Martin and many Tampa Bay starters figure to see extended playing time.

Leonard, who played for Bucs coach Greg Schiano at Rutgers, showed his versatility in the preseason opener against Baltimore, gaining 23 yards on six carries, including a 3-yard touchdown. He also showcased his blocking skills by deftly picking up blitzers and giving quarterback Josh Freeman more time in the pocket.

On Friday night against New England, with Leonard sitting out at Gillette Stadium, James and Hillis gouged the Patriots run defense repeatedly in a 25-21 setback.

“It was a solid game,” said James, a sixth-round draft pick out of the University of Miami who has been compared to dependable former Bucs running back Earnest Graham. “I was where I needed to be at times, but there are still some things to grow from. It was good to be out there and get an opportunity to show what I can do.”

The Bucs traded up to make James their final 2013 draft selection and he ran for 81 yards on 15 carries at Foxborough. He also caught three passes for 23 yards and scored on a 2-point conversion run, displaying a knack for making the first defender miss.

Hillis, signed only a month ago to a one-year deal as a free agent, is only three years removed from a 1,177-yard rushing season in Cleveland, where he added 61 receptions.

He ran over and through the Patriots on Friday for 73 yards in 18 carries, showing the Bucs braintrust the punishing style that marked LeGarrette Blount’s stellar rookie season in Tampa in 2010.

Blount, traded to New England in April, carried three times for 10 yards against Tampa Bay.

“I thought Hillis and James both had productive games running the football,” Schiano said, “which coincides with some good blocking in the run game.’’

Martin, who finished third in the NFL in total yards from scrimmage as a rookie, played sparingly again Friday. He carried once for a 4-yard gain before taking a knee to the helmet late in the opening quarter and leaving the game.

Schiano said Martin showed no concussion-like effects on the flight home from Foxborough, which didn’t land in Tampa until 4:30 a.m.

With fullback Erik Lorig also in the mix, the Bucs have some tough decisions to make regarding their offensive backfield.

“It’s a man’s league,” said James, “and there are a lot of great players out there. The offensive line was doing a great job of opening up holes. I have to work every day, do what I have to do, do all that I can on special teams and run as best I can. Then, I’ll just let the coaches decide the rest.”

With Martin expected to play more on third down this fall, his backups don’t figure to receive many touches while the games are close.

James, Hillis and Leonard know they have to contribute on special teams to maximize their value and earn a spot Aug. 31, when 53-man rosters are finalized.
While James is just trying to get noticed, Leonard and Hillis are attempting to resurrect their NFL careers.

A second-round pick by the Rams in 2007, Leonard has rushed for only 646 yards in his stints with St. Louis and Cincinnati.

Hillis is coming off a forgettable season in Kansas City.

“I’m here trying to do the best that I can,” Hillis said. “I’ve been humbled over the past couple of years. I’m just happy to be in a place they want me and a place where I can try to produce again.”

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Mike James Pushing For No. 2 RB Spot

RB Mike James, who proved he can be a valuable every-down back for the Bucs, is pushing Brian Leonard and Peyton Hillis for the No. 2 job. James recorded 81 yards on 13 carries, the third-most preseason single-game rushing yardage recorded in team history since 2000, and the most for a rookie during that period.

RB Brian Leonard, a free agent from the Rams, played for Greg Schiano at Rutgers. Being reunited in Tampa Bay has rejuvenated his career. Leonard has been so impressive that the Bucs held him out of the second preseason game in New England to give longer looks to rookie Mike James and Peyton Hillis. What makes Leonard so valuable is his versatility. He can play fullback in a two-back set and is a good pass protector and route runner to play on third down as well. Leonard may be the perfect complement to Doug Martin, especially since he can be effective in short yardage situations where the Bucs struggled a year ago.

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Mike James Joins Ahmad Black at Tampa Bay

TAMPA | Following a recent offseason workout, Bucs rookie running back Mike James was talking to the media when safety Ahmad Black, who was walking past, yelled, "Polk County!"

Black then threw two fingers in the air and kept walking.

James, a product of Ridge Community High and University of Miami shook his head and smiled.

Despite playing at rival schools — Black played at Lakeland High and the University of Florida — and playing on different sides of the ball, the two have a established a connection that some might not understand. Nothing against the players from Dade, Broward or even Duval counties, they are from Polk County and proud of it.

"It's great having someone from the county on the same team," James said. "I'm hardly home, but I'm always repping." (That's short for "representing," if you're not up on the slang.)

If there was any doubt, Black makes sure the rookie doesn't forget where he's from.

"I don't call him by his name. I call him Polk County," Black said. "All the time.

"He's come out, and it's obvious he's a pretty good player. I'm excited to have him here."

The Bucs are excited to have the sixth-round pick, as well.

During the draft, the Bucs traded running back LeGarrette Blount, then were able to move up in the draft to select James.

The team loved him off the field, too: his dedication to charity work, his maturation. They think James can make an impact in his rookie season.

"Although you could tell he had a lot of football knowledge coming in, Mike was open to growing on this level," running backs coach Earnest Byner said. "He's been open to the teaching we've had in this room. The guy has the ability to compete. He's going to make the room better by his attitude and his approach to the game."

The Bucs see the 5-foot-10, 223-pound James as a backup to Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin. They also see James being a mainstay on special teams this year.

James said by the end of the team's offseason workouts, he was starting to get more comfortable.

"Things are starting to slow down a little bit," he said. "I'm starting to get the hang of things, and I feel good.

"The toughest part was getting acclimated with everything around me, learning the schedule, learning how to conduct myself here, conduct myself there," James said. "That's probably been the toughest thing, getting acclimated to everything — the attention, the people around you, the other players, how to conduct yourself in the locker room, the meeting room, on and off the field. It's just a different demeanor."

James said Black has helped in the transition.

"He's a guy that I listen to," James said. "I try to understand what he does and then mimic him because he's been in this for a while."

About to enter his third year, Black had a good offseason. Known as a guy who likes to have fun with his friends and teammates, there has been a noticeably different side of Black, whether he's between the goalposts or in meeting rooms. He's focused.

And while he still keeps everyone in stitches in the locker room, Black is slowly developing into a leader.

"Having last year under my belt has made me real comfortable," he said. "I just have to keep going and keep grinding and getting better from here."

During a recent workout, the Tampa Bay Bucs defense was going against the offense in a passing situation. Right before the offense could snap the ball, you could hear Black yelling a call to his defensive teammates. The players switched to another defense and came up with a stop.

Following the play, safety coach Jeff Hafley called Black over and gave him a low five and patted his helmet.

"I think the biggest thing with Ahmad is his understanding of the defense," Hafley said. "It's his second go-round, and he's playing a position where there is a lot to learn. He's got to do a lot back there. Where he's impressed me is his knowledge of the defense; his knowledge of the game. He's become quite a leader back there — making some of the calls and making the checks has impressed me. He's very focused, and I'm really excited to get him to preseason."

Last year, Black played in all 16 games and finished with 32 tackles, two interceptions, five passes broken up and one forced fumble.

Even with the addition of All-Pro safety Dashon Goldson, Black is expected to see plenty of action in passing situations this season.

Black, who won two state high school titles and a BCS national title at Florida, wants to add the NFL's ultimate prize to his mantle.

"I just want to win," he said. "Whatever my coaches and teammates need me to do, that's what I'll do."

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Mike James could be perfect complement to Doug Martin

TAMPA, Fla. – They never seem too distant, one running back entering a new career phase and the other beginning his. Doug Martin, after a stellar rookie year, is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ future at the position. But he sees parts of himself in rookie Mike James.

That is why Martin is quick to offer praise for the Miami product, taken in the sixth round, 189th overall, when given the chance. These are early days of relationship building between draftees and their teammates, a time when advice is given and impressions are made. Growth happens.

Late Wednesday morning, Martin stood near a practice field after an OTA session at One Buc Place and considered his evolution. A year ago, Martin lived James’ situation, fresh out of Boise State as the 31st overall pick. He became one of the NFL’s most prolific rushing talents, earning 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns on 319 carries.

He matured into an answer. Now, Martin is eager to help with any questions.

“He’s a good guy,” Martin said of James. “He’s a smart guy as well. I know exactly what he’s going through, because I was in that position last year. I know he’s in that playbook, trying to learn. I’m out there helping him out.”

James’ selection, as it relates to Martin, stands as a contrast to another Tampa Bay draft choice: quarterback Mike Glennon, a third-round pick (73rd overall). Many outside the region view Glennon as a threat to starter Josh Freeman. Coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik, however, have said this is the incumbent’s team. There is little reason to think Freeman will lose his job this fall if he stays healthy.

Still, perceptions (false or not) take on their own life in a high-speed age. Assumptions involving quarterbacks have a long existence. This development is not exclusive to the Bucs, see: Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre with the Green Bay Packers or Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez with the New York Jets. Post-draft “controversy” is predictable. It will occur again.

Yet for many reasons, James’ selection is seen as a benefit for Martin. The two players are similar in their demeanors: humble, soft-spoken, committed to improve. It is easy to picture their working relationship growing into a scenario that enhances both.

“There’s always room to improve,” Martin said. “Stats are stats. We’ll see this season, and hopefully, if I step my game up, then I’ll increase those stats.”

There is room for him to do so. Martin hopes to improve as a pass catcher and fine-tune his route-running skills. As part of an offense last year that averaged 24.3 points per game (13th overall), he finished third on the team with 472 yards with one touchdown on 49 catches.

His vision as a rusher is there, advanced for a 24-year-old. Now, he can work to become more dynamic.

“I wouldn’t say (it was) exactly a surprise,” Martin said, smiling, when asked if his rookie production caught him off-guard. “I was very grateful for the opportunity the coaches gave me. I was starting. I just went out there and worked my butt off, and the rest is history.”

Now he can work for the future. On Wednesday, when asked how he plans to advance in his sophomore campaign, Martin said, “I had a good season, a great season, last year. And I just want to get better all-around.”

This is a personal challenge, but part of that responsibility will fall on Schiano and his staff. Martin’s task ahead is two-fold: (a) Gain a deeper grasp of his role from running backs coach Earnest Byner and (b) preserve his health. Along the way, he can be a giver and mentor James. Along the way, he can become more complete.

"Oh, man, the talent's amazing," James said, shortly after drafted. "You've seen the games. It's amazing. I'm just glad to be a part of it. I'm just happy to be a part of it."

That enthusiasm is similar to what Martin lived last spring. Unlike the strange tension following Glennon’s selection, James’ arrival offers positives: A chance for Martin to grow in a different way, as a mentor, as a guiding presence without the chatter that lingers for Freeman when Glennon is discussed.

Granted, the quarterback and running back positions in the NFL are different beasts. The spotlight is hotter behind center. Still, the contrast is revealing.

“Look, we know what he can do,” Schiano said of Martin. “It isn’t like he’s a rookie, and we’re trying to figure it out. So we’ve got to make sure that we get him ready to play. Don’t take it for granted that he’s going to be the same guy, because none of us are. But once he has shown that he’s ready, then we’ve got to make sure we get him to game one and all the rest of our games healthy.”

All part of Martin’s evolution. All part of growth in the game.

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Mike James Signs Contract With Bucs

Mike James had to wait until the Tampa Bay Bucs' final pick in order to get drafted into the NFL. The former Ridge Community High and Miami Hurricanes running back did not wait that long to sign a contract.

James signed a four-year deal with the Bucs on Monday, ensuring the rookie will be at all workouts and training camp on time. Financial terms of the deal were not released.

When it comes to James, the Bucs have high expectations for the rookie.

Drafted in the sixth round, the Bucs expect the 5-foot-10, 223-pounder to compete for the lead back-up running back role. He also is expected to be a valuable member of special teams.

"He's a powerful player," said Bucs General Manager Mark Dominik after the team drafted James. "He's a big back. He does everything. What makes Mike so special is he can play on first, second, third and fourth down. He's very dependable; very trustworthy.

James started every game his senior season with Miami and played in 50 games overall. He ran for 1,386 total yards and 17 touchdowns during his career. He also added 67 catches for 585 yards and five scores during his time with the Canes.

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Mike James Expected To Fight For 2nd String RB Position

TAMPA | There is a lesson running back Mike James' mother taught him at a young age — it's better to share with others. It is a principle that James has instilled in his entire life, including football.

And it is that unselfishness that has endeared James to the Tampa Bay Bucs.

As the Ridge Community High School alum concludes his first rookie mini-camp, James want to show that the team's sixth-round pick was a good choice.
"I'm getting acclimated with the language," James said. "I'm trying to get in tune with everything going on. It isn't tough, just different.

"Today went a long way in seeing how things work," he said. "They want to see how you handle things and seeing how you respond."

Nothing James has done since he arrived or prior has changed how the Bucs feel about him.

General Manager Mark Dominik is high on James and told a local radio station that he expects James to compete for the backup job behind starter Doug Martin.

Following the draft, Dominik compared James to former fan-favorite Earnest Graham, not only because of unselfishness on the field but also off.

James won the University of Miami's Captain Award in 2012; Melching Leadership Award and was voted the 2012 Jack Harding Team Most Valuable Player. He also was the 2012 Community Service Man of the Year winner for the Hurricanes.

But no one makes a professional team or gets drafted just because he is a good guy. James also has skills.

Even though he was a backup to some talented backs including Duke Johnson and Lamar Miller, James still contributed.

He became just the 38th 1,000-yard rusher in the program's history and even rushed for 621 yards and six touchdowns in his senior year.

"That's something I always prided myself on," James said. "My mom taught me as a child to share. That's something I do throughout my days in life and through football. I'll do anything to try to help this team get better. I'm just a puzzle piece to this team, trying to help."

Like Graham before him, the Bucs think James can be valuable on all four downs.

"As an organization we felt that and feel that after having him for a day (that he's a football player," said Bucs coach Greg Schiano. "Not only is he a good running back but he's good on special teams. I think he's going to be a real good addition to our football team. How fast does that happen? We'll have to play that out but I think he has all the tools to do that."

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Bucs GM Mark Dominik compares James to Earnest Graham

Bucs GM Mark Dominik is comparing sixth-round pick Mike James to former longtime Buccaneer FB/RB Earnest Graham.

James won't be a candidate for rookie-year carries behind Doug Martin, Brian Leonard, and Michael Smith. He's being viewed as a hybrid tailback/fullback with special teams value. "[It's] just who he is, a selfless player," said Dominik of James, describing him as a "four down" contributor. "The personality, the traits, the toughness, all of those things that Earnest [had]."

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proCane 2013 NFL Draft Roundup

Brandon McGee (Senior) was the first proCane drafted in the 2013 NFL Draft going to the St. Louis Rams with the 149th pick of the Draft in the 5th Round.

Mike James (Senior) followed Brandon McGee by getting picked with in the 6th Round, 189th pick overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Below are the free agent signing which will be constantly updated:

Kendal Thompkins WR (Senior) - Undrafted Free Agent - Will Attend Chiefs Camp May 10-12
Vaughn Telamaque S (Senior) - Undrafted Free Agent -
Ray Ray Armstrong S (Senior) - Undrafted Free Agent - St. Louis Rams
Ramon Buchanon LB
(Senior) - Undrafted Free Agent - Seattle Seahawks
Dalton Botts P (Senior) - Undrafted Free Agent - Will Attend Buccaneers Camp May 2-5 and Saints Camp May 9-11
Jake Wieclaw K (Senior) - Undrafted Free Agent -
Jeremy Lewis OL (Senior) - Undrafted Free Agent - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Darius Smith DL (Senior) - Undrafted Free Agent -
Andrew Swasey DB (Senior) - Undrafted Free Agent -

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Bucs trade up in sixth round to pick Miami RB Mike James

The Bucs, having just traded running back LeGarrette Blount, added some depth in their backfield by trading up in the sixth round to pick Miami running back Mike James.

Tampa Bay shipped their 196th overall pick in the sixth round -- plus the seventh-rounder they netted in the Blount deal with New England - to get James.

James, a 5-foot-11, 222-pound senior, is a versatile back, rushing for 1,340 career yards while also racking up 585 yards receiving. 

A Haines City, native, James also won the 2012 Community Service Man of the Year Award and Captain's Award at the team's end-of-the-season banquet.

“I like Mike James,’’ ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper told the Miami Herald. “He was one of the guys you can get probably a little later in the draft. It’s a kid over 220 pounds [who] has better quickness than he does 40 time. He runs inside very effectively” but “can bounce it to the perimeter. He’s got some skills.

“You saw what Alfred Morris [of FAU] did last year as a sixth-round pick.”

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No Miami Hurricanes players drafted in first round for fifth year in row

After Thursday night’s barren first round, the Miami Hurricanes have now gone five straight years without a premium pick in the NFL Draft.

In the five drafts prior to that, the Canes had 11 first-rounders, including six in 2004.

Thursday, though, was a long way from those Canes glory years.

Instead, three Alabama players were among the top 11 picks, showing the type of draft domination that used to belong to Miami. Cornerback Dee Milliner went ninth to the Jets, offensive guard Chance Warmack was selected 10th by the Titans, and offensive tackle D.J. Fluker was picked 11th by the Chargers.

Two of Miami’s Atlantic Coast Conference rivals – North Carolina and Florida State – also had players selected among the first 16 players. UNC offensive guard Jonathan Cooper went seventh to the Cardinals, and FSU quarterback E.J. Manuel was selected 16th by the Bills.

The second half of the first round saw four more ACC players get picked – two more from FSU, one more from UNC and one from Clemson.

Meanwhile, according to every available draft analyst, no Canes player will even be considered until somewhere in the middle rounds, when running back Mike James and cornerback Brandon McGee could be selected.

Opinions are mixed on McGee and James.

McGee’s speed has the attention of scouts, and it’s a big reason why NFL.com projects him to go anywhere from Round 4 to Round 7. He ran a 4.4 at the NFL Combine, the 13th-fastest time recorded in this year’s testing at Indianapolis.

But McGee had an inconsistent career at Miami before finally emerging as a senior. Pro Football Weekly does not project McGee as getting drafted and opines that a lack of confidence is an issue.

Pro Football Weekly has a higher opinion of James, predicting he will get drafted in the sixth or seventh round as an undersized fullback at 5-11, 220 pounds.
James scores high on character and provides solid production. But he doesn’t have the breakaway speed scouts would love for a running back or the desired size of a blocking back.

Plus, fullback is a dying position in the NFL, with most teams opting for more three-receiver or two-tight end formations.

Perhaps future drafts will be kinder to the Canes, who in the next couple of years figure to be sending several talents to the NFL such as running back Duke Johnson, offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson, defensive end Anthony Chickillo and linebacker Denzel Perryman, among others.

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Is Miami's draft streak in jeopardy?

You know as well as I do that Miami has been an NFL draft factory.

In fact, the Canes have had at least one player selected in the NFL draft every year since 1974, a string of 39 consecutive seasons. That streak, however, could be in jeopardy this year. Cornerback Brandon McGee and running back Mike James are the only two prospects with a shot at getting drafted, but neither is a guaranteed lock to get picked.

If they do come off the board, it probably will not happen until Day 3 (Rounds 4-7). The latest ESPN.com seven-round mock draft has McGee going in the sixth round and James not drafted at all. NFL.com projects McGee going in the fifth round and James going undrafted.

Miami had its streak in jeopardy back in 2009, but it was saved when Spencer Adkins went in the sixth round to Atlanta. He was the only Miami player chosen that year. That also happens to be the only time since 1987 that the Canes failed to have a player drafted in the first three rounds.

This also marks the fifth straight year without a first-round pick from Miami, a program that has had 60 first-round picks in its history -- tops among ACC schools.

Beyond Miami, the next longest draft streaks in the ACC belong to both Virginia and Florida State. Both schools have had at least one player chosen in each of the last 30 drafts, dating back to 1983. And both are expected to have at least one player picked this year -- tackle Oday Aboushi from the Hoos and 11 or more from Florida State.

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Mike James, Brandon McGee tied together by more than NFL Draft

The lives of Mike James and Brandon McGee will be intertwined for at least another week.

Both played football together at the University of Miami, waited until after they graduated to pursue an NFL career and are mid- to late-round prospects in the NFL Draft that begins Thursday and runs through Saturday.

And both will be thinking of their departed moms when their dreams are realized, if, indeed they are realized, this weekend.

“Draft day is coming, and everybody asks me ‘Where are you going to be this weekend? Who are you going to be with?’ ” said James, 22, the running back whose mother died in a car accident in December 2010.

“It’s hard to give anyone a definitive answer because for 19 years I thought I was going to be with my mom, no matter what, on draft day.

“Brandon and I share a lot when it comes to that.”

McGee, the 22-year-old cornerback whose mother died of cancer when he was 13, said his mom “will be the first thing that comes to my mind” when he’s drafted. “Before she passed I promised I’d make her proud and get to the pros.

“That day is coming soon.”

Except for McGee and James — and even they are not shoo-ins to be picked — this is expected to be a meager weekend for the Canes, who were spoiled from 1995 to 2008 with at least one player chosen in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Each is humble, respectful and well-respected, and each thankful for what they do have — as opposed to bitter about what they don’t — McGee and James, in separate interviews, said they might not turn on the TV for the majority of the three days.

“I talked to some older guys — D.J. Williams, Antrel Rolle,” James said. “D.J. went in the first round and he told me it still felt like forever. He said, ‘Whatever you do, take your mind off it. It can be stressful sitting there watching people and thinking, ‘They’re going and I was better than him!’

“The best thing to do is try to take a step back from it.”

Said McGee: “I’ll be at home [in Plantation] with my immediate family. I thought about having a little party, but I might not even do that. I might not even watch it, which would be the first year I don’t.

“I’ll record it, but I don’t want to know until it happens.”

McGee, 5-11 and 193 pounds, had one of the fastest 40-yard times at the combine in February, a 4.40 — good for 13th overall. During his UM career, he was clocked as fast as 4.29.

He came into his senior season still waiting to fulfill the expectations he created with an outstanding high school career at Plantation, where he was a dominant quarterback and considered the nation’s 10th-best corner by Rivals.com.

In 2012 he started all 12 games and tied for sixth on the team with 54 tackles, had two interceptions and seven pass breakups.

His strong performance during practice week for the East-West Shrine Game (including two interceptions) was noted across the nation.

The teams for which he worked out included the Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears.

“I work hard, I’m coachable, I can learn just about any scheme in any defense,” McGee said.

“Regardless of what round you go in, what counts is how you perform once you’re in an NFL uniform. I tend not to focus on the negative. It’s a blessing to be in this position.”

UM coach Al Golden said McGee improved tremendously in 2012.

“He’s going to be an excellent pro,” Golden said. “If you look at his body of work, everything is trending so positively. His size, his strength, he’s always had length and long speed and now he’s married that with a tool box.

“He showed the ability to tackle and be physical on the edge. I see his peak coming as he enters the draft.”

James, whose career was held back by having former star Lamar Miller ahead of him, and then, this past season, sharing reps with Duke Johnson, more than doubled his output in 2012 from the previous season.

He rushed for a career-best 621 yards and six touchdowns on 147 carries for a 4.2-yard-per-carry average, and was UM’s third-leading receiver with 30 catches for 344 yards and three touchdowns.

Though some projections have McGee going sooner than the 5-11, 222-pound James, ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. believes James is the better value as a Day 3 pick.

“I like Mike James,’’ Kiper said. “He was one of the guys you can get probably a little later in the draft. It’s a kid over 220 pounds [who] has better quickness than he does 40 time. He runs inside very effectively” but “can bounce it to the perimeter. He’s got some skills.

“You saw what Alfred Morris [of FAU] did last year as a sixth-round pick.”

James played fullback as a freshman and is regarded as the ultimate team player who is smart, loyal, has great hands and wears defenses down with considerable strength.

“Everybody wants 30 carries a game,” said James, who was timed at 4.53 in the 40 and did 28 reps in the 225-pound bench press. “But I trusted the judgment of my coaches. We did the best we could to try to make the team go as a team, not just to make Mike James go as an individual.

“I’m at peace.”

Golden said he’s confident James will flourish.

“Wherever you put him on your board, that’s what he’s worth,” Golden said. “There’s not much you don’t know about Mike James. He’s as pure as any draft pick you’ll ever get. I think he’s a mid-round player, and he’ll make somebody’s team and have a great career.”

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Kiper Says Mike James & Brandon McGee Late Round Picks

For the fifth consecutive year, UM will not have a player picked in the first round of the NFL Draft.

In fact, it seems likely only two Hurricanes — running back Mike James and cornerback Brandon McGee — will be drafted and neither will go until the third day of the selection process during rounds four to seven.

Only once since 1987 has UM not had a player drafted within the first three rounds. In 2009, Spencer Adkins was the only UM player drafted and he went in the sixth round.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. spoke this week about what he sees in store for James and McGee.

“I like Mike James. He was one of the guys I think you can get probably a little later in the draft. I think about day three. It’s a kid over 220 pounds, has better quickness than he does 40 time. He runs inside very effectively. Can bounce it to the perimeter. He’s got some skills. I think as a later round pick, he’ll make a team and contribute. You saw what [FAU's} Alfred Morris did last year as a sixth round pick.

"[I'm] not as high on Brandon McGee as some people may be. He has recovery ability. He flashes in coverage. I think he still needs a little bit of work. I projected him more as a late round pick. So they’re both late round picks, I’m just a little higher on James right now as I am on McGee as an overall rating.”


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All Canes Signing Event w/ proCanes Brandon McGee & Mike James SUNDAY


All Canes is located at 5831 Ponce de Leon Boulevard - Coral Gables, FL - 33146 a foul ball away from Mark LIght Stadium.

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proCane Pro Day Results/Stats


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Mike James a Top Performer Among RBs at NFL Combine

proCane Mike James ran well, posting a 4.53. He's been having a great draft process. Like Florida’s RB Gillislee, he's been in limited use and shared duties with freshman sensation Duke Johnson in 2012.

James finished in the top 10 among RBs in the 40-yard dash tying for 8th place with North Carolina’s RB Giovani Bernard.

James finished THIRD in the bench press among RBs with 28 reps of 225 lbs.

James finished tied for seventh in the vertical jump with 35 inches.

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AllCanesRadio TONIGHT Live From Shake Shack Coral Gables With Mike James & Damien Berry

AllCanes Radio broadcasts live every MONDAY night from 7-9pm at Shake Shack Coral Gables right across from the All Canes Store and Campus at 1450 South Dixie Highway. Each week we have a different proCane as our live in-restaurant guest. This week we will have future proCane MIKE JAMES and Ravens Super Bowl Champion RB DAMIEN BERRY. Come early to make sure you get a spot to sit and enjoy the best burgers and shakes in town!

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Future proCanes Mike James and Brandon McGee invited to NFL Combine

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Miami Hurricanes standouts Mike James and Brandon McGee have been invited to participate at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine, which be held Feb. 23-26 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The four-day combine will be televised live on NFL Network.

James will participate with the quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers on Sun., Feb. 24, while McGee will participate with the defensive backs on Tue., Feb. 26.

In January, James competed in both the Senior Bowl and NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. He started all 12 games at running back for the Hurricanes in 2012, finishing as the team’s second-leading rusher with 642 yards and six TDs. The Haines City, Fla., product concluded his career with 1,386 rushing yards and 17 scores, while catching 67 passes for 585 yards and five TDs. He was one of 11 FBS players named to the 2012 AFCA Allstate Good Works Team in September.

McGee played in the 88th East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla., in January. A native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., he was the 44th Miami Hurricane to play in the game and first UM defensive back since Al Blades in 2001. As a senior in 2012, he started all 12 games at defensive back and finished tied for sixth on the team with 54 tackles. Miami’s shut-down corner was a two-year starter and concluded his career with 24 consecutive starts.

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PHOTO: Mike James Scores A TD at Senior Bowl and Throws Up "The U"


Future proCane Mike James who was a late addition to the South’s roster in the 2013 Senior Bowl scored the South’s final TD in their 21-16 victory with 2:41 seconds left in the game. Jame had 6 carries for 10 yards and capped his evening of with a 5-yard TD run.

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Mike James Late Edition To Senior Bowl

Didn't get a chance to pass this along earlier because I was working the phones, but Canes running back Mike James has been invited as a late addition for Saturday's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

James, replacing injured Clemson running back Andre Ellington on the South roster, will be the 63rd Miami Hurricane to play in the Senior Bowl and the first Canes running back since Cleveland Gary in 1989.

It will be James' second postseason college bowl invite; the Haines City, Fla., native rushed for 21 yards in the 2013 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl held on Jan. 19 in Carson, Calif.

James started all 12 games at running back for the Hurricanes in 2012, finishing as the team’s second-leading rusher with 642 yards and six touchdowns. He piled up 1,386 rushing yards and 17 TDs, while catching 67 passes for 585 yards and five touchdowns in his career. He was one of 11 FBS players named to the 2012 AFCA Allstate Good Works Team in September.

Kickoff Saturday is set for 4 p.m. The game will be televised on the NFL Network.

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VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: Mike James vs Florida State (2012)

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One Future proCane Gets Late Invite To Senior Bowl

UM’s Brandon McGee was not invited to the Senior Bowl but Senior Mike James did get a last minute invite on Tuesday to the Senior Bowl. Mel Kiper projects both as late round picks, though some scouts believe McGee could rise to a mid-rounder.

“James could push his way on a roster as a third back,” Kiper said, adding no other Cane player will be drafted in April. By the way, James, McGee, Darius Smith and Vaughn Telemaque were on rosters for other draft showcase games this weekend, neither as prestigious as next Saturday's Senior Bowl.

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