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.