It's deja vu all over again for Eldra Buckley at training camp.
Last summer, Buckley came into camp as an unheralded player given little shot to make the team by most outsiders. Then, when the pads came on and the team went live, Buckley stood out for his bruising running style and overtook his competition to snag the third running back spot. This year, Buckley again was overlooked coming into training camp as the team drafted running back Charles Scott in the sixth round and brought in more competition with the likes of Martell Mallett and J.J. Arrington.
But again Buckley is showing that he shouldn't be counted out. Working with the second-team offense this morning, with Mike Bell absent from the live portion of practice with a hamstring injury, Buckley again turned heads when going against the No. 1 defense. In fact, he didn't just turn heads, he knocked them around.
Several times throughout the session, Buckley, 5-7, 209, carried the pile and worked hard to pick up extra yards after contact. But the highlight of the day came when Buckley burst through the line of scrimmage and was met by a punishing hit from cornerback Asante Samuel, who met Buckley helmet to helmet. Buckley was stunned the by the hit, but he didn't go down and kept fighting for an extra five yards or so before being taken down by several players in the secondary.
"It was an adrenaline rush, but that's why you play the game, for that adrenaline rush," Buckley said about the play. Samuel "made a good lick, he came in and threw his body into me and I felt the lick definitely but through the grace of God I was able to stay up and keep running."
But Buckley also knows that he can't rely on his rushing style alone to grab a coveted roster spot. He was a force on special teams last season, but he knows he needs to be more well-rounded offensively.
"I feel good about (my rushing ability), but it's not just about the physical style," he said. "In this offense, it's a versatile offense and you have to be able to do everything, so in that aspect I feel comfortable but I have to now take a step above and do other aspects of the game.
"A big part of this game is the mental focus and I have to get my mental focus down to a T. I can't have any excuses."
Even though Buckley is fighting hard to retain his spot on the roster, he tries not to focus on how he stacks up against his competition.
"That's not something I can think of," he said. "My job is to come out here and work hard, continue to get better and do the best I can. That's at the back of my mind, it's nothing I can think about.
"Different people have to do different things to step their game up and I want to be able to do anything I can to step my game up and be better."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 11:47 a.m., August 8