Hall of Famer
Posts : 11188
Bucs' Martin Adding Leadership to Backfield Role
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin (22) rushes the ball as cornerback Leonard Johnson (29) tries to defend during practice on the first day of training camp at One Buc Place in Tampa.
MICHAEL WILSON | THE LEDGER
By Rick Brown
Running back Doug Martin is just in his second year in the league. But after making the Pro Bowl in his rookie season, a lot is expected of Martin this year. In addition to being the team's top rusher, one of the top receivers and a good blocker, Martin has also been asked to assume the role of leader.
One of the benefactors of Martin's leadership has been rookie running back Mike James.
James, a product of Ridge Community and University of Miami, and Martin are roommates during training camp. And James has leaned on the 5-foot-9 Martin's shoulders for advice.
"It's a good thing I'm under Doug always," James said. "I pay attention to everything he does. He's helping me with the transition and things are going well. It's like a dream."
Martin doesn't mind his additional role with the team. In fact, he's starting to embrace it.
"It's a funny situation," Martin said. "I was in his position last year. I know exactly what he's going through. I help him out whatever. Whatever questions he has, I know what he's going through. I do what I can to help anybody out here; especially the backs. He's doing a good job."
James is working to solidify a role with the team. He wants to be the primary backup as well as play on special teams.
Martin said James' understanding of the playbook has helped him already on the field.
"The first thing I noticed is he picked up on the playbook pretty fast," Martin said of his roommate. "It took me and the rest of the guys time to learn it. He is doing a good job of catching on to the playbook.
"He has good speed," Martin said of James. "He is determined, focused (and) ready to play some downs."
That was evident during Saturday's night practice. Following the event, James had a huge smile as he rushed off the field as the practice was the first one the team has had with pads on.
"This was fun, fun, fun, fun," a beaming James said. "I love playing ball and being in pads is part of it. I loved every moment of it."
As he was talking, offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan walked by and said to a reporter, "you're interviewing a good one there," talking of James.
James just smiled and said "thank you coach."
He's adjusting well but has had moments of indecision. That is where Martin has come in and provided the right words to keep James going.
"There are long days," he said. "The focus is a little different so I'm making sure I'm staying focus on every little detail."
Black Has an Ankle Injury; Other Updates
It appeared as if the injury was worst when it happened. Tampa Bay safety Ahmad Black (Lakeland High) went down and couldn't get up during Saturday practice. Luckily for Black and the Bucs, it wasn't as bad as it seemed. Black suffered an ankle injury late in Saturday's night practice and was held out of practice on Sunday. Schiano said he didn't think it was serious and Black gave a thumbs up as he left the practice field Sunday.
During practice Sunday, he was joined on the sidelines with defensive end William Gholston (hamstring), Gary Gibson (ankle), fullback Erik Lorig (calf), tight end Luke Stocker (calf), tight end Zach Miller (hamstring), defensive end Steven Means (Achilles strain), Danny Gorrer (groin) and Markus White (foot). Schiano said he expects some of these players to return this week.
Linebacker Dekoda Watson, who is competing for the starting strongside linebacker position, said he lifted less weights in the summer than he had in the past. He said he actually did more work to help his flexibility, including yoga, boxing and martial arts.
Schiano said he likes what he sees in Watson so far.
"I've only known him for however long I've been here, 20 months, but this is a guy that has a fire," Schiano said. "Now I can tell you that he understands the defense umpteen times better than he did this time last year, which is going to help him. When he gets it, he's an explosive player.
"As I said earlier, on special teams, I think he's as good as there is in this league….If he can get that level of understanding and comfort on defense, I think he can be equally (effective)."
Welcome Back Jamon
Offensive lineman Jamon Meredith had a family situation that forced him to miss the first two days of training camp but he returned for Saturday's night practice.
"I thought he practiced hard (Saturday) night and again (Sunday)," Schiano said. "It's good to have him back in there, especially when Davin (Joseph) and Carl (Nicks) are taking limited work. You need the depth."
[ Rick Brown may be reached at email@example.com. Follow his training camp coverage at bucsscene.blogs.theledger.com and on Twitter @LedgeronBucs. ]