James suffered a fractured ankle early in the first quarter of Monday night’s 22-19 victory against the Miami Dolphins. But the Bucs didn’t run out of running backs.
Leonard carried 20 times for 57 yards and caught two passes for 16 yards. Rainey gained 45 yards on eight carries.
The Tampa Bay coaching staff has history with Leonard and a sudden confidence in Rainey. Leonard went to Rutgers, where Tampa Bay’s Greg Schiano and a bunch of his assistants, used to coach.
“When we acquired Brian, we knew what kind of young man he is and the character and the toughness and all those things,’’ Schiano said. “He certainly stepped up.’’
Leonard did what was expected of him, but it was Rainey who stepped up in more spectacular fashion. In the fourth quarter, Rainey broke off a 31-yard run, which set up his own 1-yard touchdown run that put the Bucs ahead to stay.
“To do what he did, shows that he’s a real special player,’’ quarterback Mike Glennon said.
“I thought the best thing he did was ball security,’’ Schiano said. “Sometimes you get a guy in there that hasn’t played lately and that ball gets all over the place.’’
The Bucs are going to have to be secure with Leonard and Rainey as their running backs for the rest of the season.
“That’s probably how we’ll have to go -- ham and egging with those two guys and see what we can do,’’ Schiano said.
The Bucs are a run-first team and that’s not going to change. Leonard and Rainey are going to get a lot more chances to do what they did against the Dolphins.