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Michael Smith, Buccaneers rookie, wants starting job

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers used the No. 31 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft on Boise State running back Doug Martin, who is expected to compete with LeGarrette Blount for the starting job. But 178 picks later, the Buccaneers selected Utah State running back Michael Smith, who plans on pushing for a starting job, writes Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune.

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"I look at it very differently," Smith said. "Others may see it (as a two-man race), but I'm not out here just to be a third-down back. I'm going to be out here working and (looking) to start, to play immediately and to make an impact on the team."

Smith's moxie is admirable, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him log considerable playing time as a rookie.

At 5-foot-9 and 206 pounds, Smith is similar in size to New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw. First-year Buccaneers offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan spent the last six seasons on the Giants' coaching staff. Like Bradshaw, however, Smith has foot injuries in his past.

The main difference is that Smith is much faster than Bradshaw, running a 4.33-second 40-yard dash at Utah State's pro day in March. Smith's speed and explosiveness (40.5-inch vertical jump) makes him an ideal change-of-pace back to the bigger, more physical backs the Buccaneers have in Martin and Blount.

Smith might be a starter in the NFL one day. But for now, making the 53-man roster as a third-down back will have to be his consolation prize.

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