- By Mitchell Northam The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A native of north Fulton County is set to get the bulk of carries at running back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season.
Earlier this week, Tampa head coach Dirk Koetter identified Peyton Barber, a Milton High School graduate, as the Buccaneers starting running back. A third-year back out of Auburn, Peyton carried the ball four times in the Bucs’ first preseason game, gaining 21 yards and scoring a touchdown.
“Peyton's our starter,” Koetter told reporters. “And we're going to definitely use Ronald Jones and take advantage of what he can do… Again, we have three more preseason games. Let's just let it sort out a little bit more. We could go either of those ways, though. We'll see how it sorts out.”
While Koetter said the magic word — “starter” — he wasn’t overly committed to Barber. He did say that he has the ability to be an every-down-back, but the Bucs will mix in some other talent in the backfield this season.
“Peyton could be a three-down player if we asked him to,” Koetter told reporters. “The reason you don't see a whole lot of three-down backs in the NFL is just because it's hard on them ... They get tired. They take a pounding.”
Barber re-signed with Tampa Bay this offseason on a one-year deal for $630,000. Last year, he galloped through opposing defenses for 423 yards and three touchdowns over 16 games.
At Milton High School, Barber rushed for 22 touchdowns and more than 1,700 yards as a senior. In his sophomore season at Auburn, he scampered for 1,017 yards and 13 touchdowns. Barber bolted for the NFL after that, but went unselected in the 2016 NFL Draft and signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent.
Barber and the Bucs’ next preseason game is Saturday at 8 p.m. vs. the Titans.