Doug Martin hasn't found the right footing since his breakout rookie campaign in 2012. After missing most of last season with a shoulder injury, Martin missed two games for the Buccaneers this year with a knee injury. In the time he has been on the field he hasn't looked great.
Martin hasn't had a 100-yard outing in his past seven games, and this season he has fewer than 50 rushing yards in all three contests he's participated in. The problem hasn't been just the Buccaneers' blocking. Martin has caused just three missed tackles on his 37 carries and six receptions this season. That low percentage ranks him 39th out of 43 running backs with at least 25 percent of a team's attempts.
Still, Lovie Smith said this week he plans to stick with Martin, and the young runner has shown positives the past two weeks.
Martin believes that a much-needed breakout game is coming soon. Martin said he's been "close" to busting out, and that he "can't wait until it happens." Owners probably feel the same way. Unfortunately, Martin will find the sledding tough again this week against a stingy Baltimore Ravens run defense. But softer defenses are on the horizon after a Week 7 bye: Vikings Week 8, ranked 21st in allowing fantasy points to RBs; Browns Week 9 ranked 23rd and the Falcons Week 10 ranked 32nd.
At least that’s the message from quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo, who is working as the playcaller with offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford on a leave of absence. Arroyo said Wednesday he’s happy with how Martin has played.
“I like how hard he works,’’ Arroyo said. “I like how hard he runs. I like that he’s trying to find ways to get it done. He has zero flinch. He’s a team guy. I like those things.’’
This is a vote of confidence in Martin's workload, at least. He should continue to lead the team in touches. He has seen 69 percent of Tampa's running back touches in the last two games.
Don't give up on running back Doug Martin, because the Bucs aren't going to. Although Martin has been ineffective, the coaches still think he's way ahead of the other running backs. The holes haven't been there for Martin to do very much, but coach Lovie Smith believes in a run-first offense. The Bucs are going to keep feeding the ball to Martin. Sooner or later, he's bound to break free, and that could happen against a struggling New Orleans defense.
Martin is our #19 RB in standard formats and is one of the few backs in that range with an all but guaranteed workload.
Friday, September 26, 2014, 6:33pm
Buccaneers RB Doug Martin (knee, probable) took full practice reps all week and is probable for Week 4. Martin is practicing fully this week (and declared himself ‘100 percent’ healthy) so he looks like a go for a Week 4 matchup with the Steelers. We’re expecting him to get the start after Bobby Rainey’s fumblitis in Week 3. Rainey has otherwise ran well, however, and may see a larger than usual role for a change-of-pace back.
Thursday, September 25, 2014, 6:48pm
Buccaneers RB Doug Martin (knee) took full practice reps again Thursday. Martin is practicing fully this week (and declared himself ‘100 percent’ healthy) so he looks like a go for a Week 4 matchup with the Steelers. We’re expecting him to get the start after Bobby Rainey’s fumblitis in Week 3. Rainey has otherwise ran well, however, and may see a larger than usual role for a change-of-pace back.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014, 7:09pm
Buccaneers RB Doug Martin (knee) practiced fully Wednesday. Martin is practicing fully this week so he looks like a go for a Week 4 matchup with the Steelers. We’re expecting him to get the start after Bobby Rainey’s fumblitis in Week 3. Rainey has otherwise ran well, however, and may see a larger than usual role for a change-of-pace back.
With Martin out, Bobby Rainey should see a big workload in a great matchup. He is still available on the wire in some leagues. Some around the NFL believe Rainey will keep the starting job even after Martin returns.
Bobby Rainey becomes a low-end RB1/high-end RB2 if Martin is out. If Martin is active, Rainey is still startable as a RB2/flex, but the situation is far murkier if Martin is playing tonight.
Buccaneers beat writer Rick Stroud was asked about RB Doug Martin's status for tonight's game against the Falcons: "I think Martin is active but may not start. Probably go with the hot hand on (Bobby Rainey)."
It sounds as if Stroud is speculating, not reporting as fact. Martin (and Rainey) owners should be aware that the situation is murky right now. Expect both backs to get touches, possibly forming a full-blown committee.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014, 6:15pm
Buccaneers RB Doug Martin (knee, questionable) took limited practice reps Wednesday. Martin apparently practiced with the first team ahead of Bobby Rainey, so it looks like he’ll get the start. HC Lovie Smith said that he wants to use two (or three) backs, so Martin’s workload may be somewhat limited this week if Rainey comes in and plays well.
There were no definitive answers from the coaching staff this week.
“We want to play more than one running back, two, maybe three,’’ coach Lovie Smith said. “That’s why we’ve had three (active) every time we could. That’s just making our running back position stronger.’’
Smith’s not dancing around. He’s serious about playing two or three running backs. He’s been saying that since he arrived, but it hasn’t happened the way Smith wants yet.
This doesn't do much to answer the question at hand. Rainey's impressive game may be enough to earn him the start over Martin, who is back at practice. Neither player is a strong start this week given the murkiness of the situation.
Friday, September 12, 2014, 7:30pm
Lions RB Reggie Bush (knee, probable) took full practice reps again Friday and is probable for Week 2. Bush should be good to go for a tough matchup with the Panthers. They were very stingy against the run in 2013 and shut down both Doug Martin and Bobby Rainey in Week 1.
Friday, September 12, 2014, 7:30pm
Buccaneers RB Doug Martin (knee, questionable) took limited practice reps again Friday and is questionable for Week 2. Martin should be able to play through the knee injury, but he’s a shaky start given the Bucs inability to run the ball against the Panthers.
Thursday, September 11, 2014, 6:24pm
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