Lost in QB Jameis Winston's shadow is the play of running back Doug Martin in Monday night's preseason victory against Cincinnati. Martin had six carries for 59 yards (a 9.8-yard average), including 52 yards on an opening touchdown drive.
He looked more like the Martin who rushed for more than 1,400 yards as a rookie in 2012 than like the player who has struggled through injuries the past two seasons.
"First off, he's healthy and you know how much that means to a running back," coach Lovie Smith said Tuesday. "He's worked hard. He's looked good in training camp practices but you want to see him do it in a game. There were holes last night. But there was also a wall and he was stopped at the line of scrimmage a couple of times and he made something out of nothing a few times. He broke tackles and ran hard. Just a good game."
Martin's play in training camp has had the coaching staff talking and his performance against the Bengals only added to the excitement that he might be able to be the player he once was. Martin could also be inspired by his contract situation as the Bucs declined his 2016 option. There are plenty of backs behind Martin who have shown flashes at one time or another in Charles Sims, Bobby Rainey and Mike James.
He was given a new lease this year under offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and coach Lovie Smith has already bestowed upon him the starting gig.
Martin, who is leaner and quicker this camp, believes he can have a big season.
"The sky is the limit," Martin said, via ESPN.com. "We have a lot of potential going into this year with this team. We have a lot of weapons and a lot of guys with fire in them that want to be successful. I just can't wait to get out there with them."
The coaching staff reportedly loves Charles Sims, but OC Dirk Koetter fought to keep Martin with the team during the offseason, and he still sits atop the team's depth chart after a very strong offseason. The offense should be improved with Jameis Winston under center and a better offensive line up front. Martin is going in the 6th, so he's a good target for the “wait on RB” crowd.
While there's a lot of excitement in Tampa Bay about the future of No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston, who will presumably be counted on to carry the offense to new heights at some point, head coach Lovie Smith knows the Buccaneers will have to give him some help early in his career in the form of a strong running game.
"Definitely a key for us," Smith said, per the Tampa Bay Times. "We talked about being able to establish the run. Doug Martin will be the lead guy doing that, so it's very important that we open up some holes and let him do his thing."
Martin had an excellent rookie season himself back in 2012, rushing for 1,454 yards (4.6 per carry) and 11 touchdowns while adding 49 catches for 472 yards and another score. In doing so, he became just the third rookie ever to amass at least 1,400 rushing yards and 400 receiving yards, per Pro-Football-Reference.
This falls right in line with a story we had yesterday from a beat writer that said the Bucs need Martin to lead the way on the ground, and is the team's most talented back. Martin has yet to reach those same heights from his rookie season – or even come close – over the last two seasons, the story said. As we all know, injuries limited him to 17 games in 2013 and 2014 combined, during which he registered only 950 rushing yards (3.6 per carry), 130 receiving yards and three total touchdowns. Staying on the field will be key for Martin and anyone who takes a shot on him again for their fantasy team. The Bucs have plenty of potential behind Martin: Charles Sims, Bobby Rainey and Mike James.
After a spectacular rookie season, Bucs RB Doug Martin has turned in two seasons that have been plagued by injuries and an alarming lack of production. His career is at a crossroads. No longer a kid, the 26-year-old enters his fourth season and, frankly, the Bucs have no idea if the former first-round pick still has what it takes to be an effective back in this league. It's why they declined a fifth-year option on his contract.
Now the Bucs have little time to figure out Martin's future. Because as much as the focus seems to be around rookie quarterback Jameis Winston, the Bucs offense (and Winston's season) will be a lot more productive if the Bucs can move the ball on the ground.
"Definitely a key for us," Bucs coach Lovie Smith said. "We talked about being able to establish the run. Doug will be the lead guy doing that, so it's very important that we open up some holes and let him do his thing."
Martin hasn't come close to his rookie year performance, but you don't have to tell that to fantasy owners who keep taking a chance on him. By now many have likely jumped on board with some of the Bucs other backs like Bobby Rainey, Mike James and Charles Sims. But, the author feels none of them has the talent of Martin. Martin ranks way down our list at 32. It's possible Jameis Winston and the threat of a passing game can help out the Bucs running game, but right now it's tough to predict how many touches Martin will see a game. The story said Martin spent the offseason in California with a new workout routine that has lowered his weight and body fat and increased his stamina. Right around 220 pounds, Martin knows he is playing to, perhaps, stay with the Bucs and maybe even stay in the league.
Buccaneers RB Doug Martin had his best offseason in three years, and the upswing in his play could not have come at a better time. Charles Sims is good enough to start and he’ll push Martin hard for the bell-cow role. But the Bucs are probably better with Martin in the lead, Sims filling a third-down pass catcher’s role and Bobby Rainey backing up both.
The coaching staff reportedly loves Charles Sims, but OC Dirk Koetter fought to keep Martin with the team during the offseason, and he still sits atop the team's depth chart after a strong offseason. He's going in the 8th or 9th round, so he's a good target for those owners who are looking for potential starters in the later rounds.
“What you’re not seeing that makes me look a little slimmer is my body fat,” Martin said. “I got my body fat down by like four or five percent so I’m in great shape. I feel good and I’m ready to go.”
Martin could have a few new faces blocking for him after the Bucs’ selected tackle Donovan Smith and guard Ali Marpet in this year’s draft. Although the Bucs have only gone through non-contact OTA practices, he can already see improvement along the offensive line.
“They’re doing pretty good,” Martin said. “There’s more communication between the line. We’re more gelled than we were last year. I feel like it’s going to be a good season for us and the line’s doing a good job proving that… or (are) going to prove that.”
The coaching staff reportedly loves Charles Sims, but OC Dirk Koetter fought to keep Martin with the team during the offseason, and he still sits atop the team's depth chart. He's going in the 9th round, so he's a good target for those owners who are looking for potential starters in the later rounds.
Joe Kania of Buccaneers.com:
Last week it was Doug Martin that caught our eye. This week, a different running back stood out. While Martin and Charles Sims were used often in the screen game, Bobby Rainey ran a few of the deeper routes out of the backfield. Rainey, Martin and Sims are all battling to be the Bucs’ No. 1 running back, and Rainey’s ability to catch the ball out of the backfield is helping his case.
Rainey was by far the best Bucs running back last season, averaging 4.3 YPC, while Martin (3.7 YPC) and Sims (2.8) struggled mightily. Rainey also led the backs in receptions with 33 for 315 yards and a touchdown. He hasn't been discussed much this preseason as the focus has been on Martin and Sims, but he's a player to have on speed dial if either player suffers an injury.
Doug Martin looked smooth during Thursday’s session, making sharp cuts and catching out of the backfield during one-on-one drills against linebackers. The Boise State product was practicing with first-team offense and, according to Lovie Smith, he’ll stay with that group.
“He’s on the first team like he has always been,” Smith said. “He’s one of our guys, he’s our running back. He’s showing up and he is getting good work. I think it is just as simple as that.”
The team is supposedly very high on Charles Sims, but it sounds as if it's time to pump the brakes a bit. Neither player is a great fantasy option, though with the additions that the Bucs made to the offensive line, the running game should be better in 2015.
Pat Yasinkas on the Buccaneers running back situation: The Bucs will have two position battles that I find especially compelling. First, there's running back. Doug Martin has been the starter the past three seasons. But he's coming off a disappointing season and the coaching staff and front office don't seem sold on a player they didn't draft. They did draft Charles Sims last year and the coaches are very high on him. Sims could end up beating out Martin.
Sims averaged 2.8 YPC on 66 carries last year but fared well in the passing game (19 catches for 190 yards). The best running back on the roster last year was Bobby Rainey, but no one seems to think he's a threat for a major role as long as Sims and Martin stay healthy.
Do the Tampa Bay Buccaneers still believe in running back Doug Martin? Coach Lovie Smith told a gathering of team suite holders on Thursday that "we haven't seen the true Doug Martin yet," per Roy Cummings of The Tampa Tribune.
Smith went on to praise Tampa's stable of backs -- including Bobby Rainey, Mike James and Charles Sims -- while noting that new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter is excited to see what a healthy Martin can accomplish in 2015.
Three years removed from a sizzling rookie campaign that saw him rumble for 1,454 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns, Martin has been slowed by shoulder, knee and ankle injuries over the past two seasons. After burning through opponents for 4.6 yards per carry as a rookie, he's logged just 3.6 yards per tote since.
As the story also pointed out, Martin played last season behind a terrible O-line. There's also been a lot of hype surrounding Sims, who could cut into any kind of workload Martin would get this season. However, the story also pointed out it's entirely possible the Bucs look to trade or release Martin before the season.
Friday, December 5, 2014, 6:38pm
Buccaneers RB Bobby Rainey (ankle, questionable) missed practice all week and is questionable for Week 14. Rainey’s absence would open the for both Doug Martin and Charles Sims to receive more snaps and touches, though a matchup with a very tough Detroit defense isn’t appealing.
Thursday, December 4, 2014, 5:59pm
Buccaneers RB Bobby Rainey (ankle) missed practice again Thursday. Rainey’s absence would open the for both Doug Martin and Charles Sims to receive more snaps and touches, though a matchup with a very tough Detroit defense isn’t appealing.
Wednesday, December 3, 2014, 6:30pm
Buccaneers RB Bobby Rainey (ankle) did not practice Wednesday. Rainey’s absence would open the for both Doug Martin and Charles Sims to receive more snaps and touches, though a matchup with a very tough Detroit defense isn’t appealing.
Buccaneers HC Lovie Smith called Doug Martin the team's bell cow in August, and Martin's photograph stares out from billboards near Raymond James Stadium. Martin, who hasn't addressed reporters this week, got many of the reps with the first team during drills.
Smith said Martin's role will be to get "back into the mix." Martin's health will help determine how many offensive touches he gets and whether he can step into the role Smith envisioned for him months ago.
"Yes, we would like to see one of our running backs rush for 200 yards and he becomes the bell-cow role," Smith said. "But Doug is back this week, and that's a good thing. He's looked pretty good in practice, and we feel real good about that group, whatever three or four we go with."
It's shaping up to be an ugly three-headed committee in Week 12, but we believe the team wants to see what they have in Charles Sims. Unfortunately, he's questionable with an ankle injury after sitting out most of the season (with an ankle injury), so that certainly limits his upside.
Friday, November 21, 2014, 6:26pm
Buccaneers RB Doug Martin (ankle, questionable) took limited practice reps all week and is questionable for Week 12. Charles Sims (ankle, questionable) is also iffy. Sims likely gets the lion’s share if they both play, but neither is an attractive start at this point.
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