Bucs running back Bobby Rainey has barely been in Tampa Bay long enough to learn his teammates’ names, but after four touchdowns in six days, including three in Sunday’s 41-28 win over the Atlanta Falcons, he’s emerged as a household name.
There was the 43-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter to give Tampa Bay its first touchdown of the day. Then came the 3-yard up the gut following Mark Barron’s fumble recovery. And finally, there was the 4-yard touchdown pass on the outside to make it a 31-6 ball game in the third quarter.
“I can’t even remember that, to be honest,” Rainey laughed when asked about his first touchdown of the game, with a smile so wide, it could rival the holes his offensive line made for him. But he does remember dreaming of moments like this.
He finished Sunday’s game with 163 rushing yards on 30 carries with two touchdowns, along with 2 catches for 4 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown — the type of performance a seven-year-old taking up football for the first time could only wish for. That’s when Rainey took up football, wanting to emulate Barry Sanders and Warrick Dunn.
Now he has a spot on the Bucs’ single-game rushing list, six spots below Dunn at No. 9.
“I don’t think anybody thinks that a guy’s going to come out and rush for…163 yards. But [we are ] very proud of him,” head coach Greg Schiano said, acknowledging that Rainey’s comfort level with the offense has provided virtually a seamless transition from Doug Martin to Mike James and now Rainey.
“The thing that Bobby has the benefit of is when we played at Western Kentucky, this is the stuff he ran. Power, inside zone — those are [are] plays that we run. So he was very comfortable seeing them, feeling them.”
Teammate Gerald McCoy admits he had no idea who Rainey was prior to him joining the team Oct. 21, three days after he was waived by the Cleveland Browns. But his first impression was a lasting one.
“He shook me so bad one time in practice. I was like, ‘Man, if they every put him in the game, he’s going to kill it. It hurt. I tried to keep up with him. I was like, ‘Man, that’s no scout team running back, whatever,'” McCoy said. “I told those guys if he ever gets in a game, I think he’s going to play well and he just plays hard.”
Linebacker Lavonte David did know who Rainey was. The two played against each other in college one year, when David was at Nebraska.
“He’s been a great addition, ever since day one. He’s stepping up. We had two guys going down with big injuries. There were some big shoes to fill, but he’s fitting in quite well…He’s a patient back. He lets lanes open and just hits them.”
Except no one gave the 5-foot-8, 212-pound running back, now on his third team in two seasons, a chance. Rejection only fed his desire more.
“That’s my motivation – to prove people wrong. No man can tell another man what he can and cannot do, period, no matter the circumstances…If you believe in God, you can do anything and that’s what I do. I owe fate a favor.”
Monday night against the Dolphins, the first time he took snaps as a Buccaneer, he rushed for 45 yards on eight carries and had a 1-yard touchdown run, regaining a lead the Bucs held in the final ten minutes to win 22-19.
His reward? Seeing newborn daughter, Kyvee Jolee Rainey, whom he admits occupied most of his attention this week.
“[She] came in after the Monday Night Football game. So I had a lot going on this week. I was so excited. I was excited before the game. That was [where] my mind [was] at, on my little girl. Then today, I can’t wait to get done with you all so I can see her.”