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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Rutgers' Justin Goodwin returns to unclear role at running back

(AP photo)
By Tyler Barto
Twitter: @Tyler_Barto

PISCATAWAY Justin Goodwin trotted onto Rutgers' practice bubble turf Tuesday as a full participant at running back, and that's about the only certainty head coach Kyle Flood could muster.

Goodwin, who finished second last season with 111 rushes, 521 yards and five touchdowns, returns to an already established backfield. Paul James is the workhorse, and Desmon Peoples has spelled him.

Flood previously said playing three running backs is a tricky trade. He isn't sure how it will play out this time.

"I think as we get into the game plan and we get a little further into the week we'll start to figure out how the reps will be doled out," Flood said Tuesday. "All three guys are talented guys, and all three guys can help us move the ball, so I think we have to utilize them."

James and Peoples are averaging nearly 19 and nine carries per game, respectively. Flood said earlier this season Peoples's role wouldn't be affected by Goodwin's potential return.

That means Rutgers taps into plays for Goodwin from other pockets of its offense or he returns to a noticeably reduced role.

"I just think we're all different backs," Goodwin said. We all complement each other. I think it's great."

Goodwin recorded three tackles and one interception in Rutgers' season opener after he converted briefly to cornerback. He missed the next two games with an upper-body injury. 

VIDEO: Flood explains why he moved Goodwin to defense

Flood told him of his move to offense Sunday.

"It feels good. I missed it a little bit," Goodwin said. "I'm just trying to get back in the groove of things. I feel like I'll be fine. I remember everything. It's starting to come back to me as I keep getting more practices."

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