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August 24, 2012 @ 11:47 pm
Current rating: 4.67 Stars/3 Votes

Bucs Rookie Review: Martin Gets Nod Over Blount, Leads All Rushers

Written by Dory
Dory LeBlanc


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In this new Pewter Report preseason feature, beat writer Dory LeBlanc closely watched the Buccaneer rookies Friday night against the Patriots and gave her impression of how each one performed under the lights at Raymond James Stadium. 
Mark Barron
The seventh overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft followed up his impressive debut against Tennessee last week, with an even better one against New England. Barron assisted Adrian Clayborn with a tackle on Stevan Ridley for no gain on a third down situation. On the Patriots second drive of the game, Ronde Barber tipped a Tom Brady pass that fell into the arms of Barron, who ran it in 22 yards for the pick-six. During the next Patriots possession, Barron knocked Ridley out of bounds after 11 yard pickup. Barron had nice pad level on the play, driving into Ridley’s chest with his right shoulder. Barron picked up another assist in the second quarter with Lavonte David, as the two rookies stopped Ridley at the one yard line on a first and goal with six to go.

Schiano said after the night practice a few weeks ago that some players come on when the lights come on, and that is the perfect way to describe Barron. The two-time National Champion at Alabama isn’t the most impressive player in practice, but in a live-game situation Barron is a very smart, intuitive football player who loves contact.

Barron has been sticking with 16 year veteran Barber like glue which has paid off as Barron has a football maturity level far beyond a rookie. Barber reads the quarterback very well and has the ability to diagnose plays immediately, then executes a play with perfect timing. Barron is rarely in the wrong place at the wrong time, and is a very reliable safety inside the box.

Doug Martin
The second of Tampa Bay’s first round 2012 draft picks got the nod over LeGarrette Blount to start the third preseason game and was the Bucs’ workhorse throughout the first half and into the third quarter against the Patriots.

Martin capped off a 68 yard Buccaneer opening drive with a one yard touchdown for a total of nine yards on the series. The following possession, the Boise State product continued to gain short yardage with two more carries for four yards.

Blount played the next series, but after three carries for seven yards Martin was back in as the tailback. After the Bucs took over on downs following a defensive stop on fourth and one, Josh Freeman rolled left as Martin came across field, but Freeman couldn’t connect with the rookie back and the pass was almost intercepted but fell for incompletion. On the next play, Martin picked up eight yards up the middle. Halfway through the first half, Martin made his first reception of the game, a four-yarder over the middle of the field. With less than two minutes remaining before halftime, Martin made his longest run of the night, a 19 yard gain up the middle, followed by a three yard reception on a Freeman short pass. The Bucs settled for a 51 yard field goal by Kai Forbath to take the game into the break.

Martin was back out to start the third quarter, but after 11 yards on the ground, Martin was replaced at running back by Blount.

Martin has lived up to his first round status ever since he arrived in Tampa Bay, and Friday night’s performance against the Patriots (13 carries, 53 yards and three receptions, 12 yards) proves he can be an NFL feature back. Martin does many things well, but what he was able to do more than anything Friday night was wear down the Patriots front seven.

Lavonte David
For the first time all preseason, the rookie out of Nebraska was relatively quiet with only the assist with Barron on Ridley and a pass break up on a Brady-to-Hernandez pass in the second quarter.  Middle linebacker Mason Foster was sidelined with a minor hamstring injury and Adam Hayward was in to replace him, which may have thrown David off.

David has been one of the most impressive players on defense the past month, and one off preseason game who remove him as the starting Will.

Najee Goode
Goode has been playing well on special teams coverage, but wasn’t effective on the unit against the Patriots. He did, however, record three tackles at his natural linebacker position; with one in the third and two in the fourth.

Goode has continued to struggle against the pass, while performs adequately as a run-stopper. He is a two-down backer at this point, but has the potential to develop into a pass covering linebacker as well.

Keith Tandy
Tandy had a breakout game against the Patriots, which began with two stops on punt coverage after a tackle on Julian Edelman in the first quarter and a tackle on Hernandez in the second.

The former West Virginia Mountaineer had to wait until deep into the third quarter to see action as a defensive back, but Tandy lit Ridley up constantly once he was on the field. Tandy had two assists (with Najee Goode and with Ahmad Black) and two solo tackles on the Patriot running back in the third. In the final quarter, Tandy continued to be a standout adding four more solo tackles to end the game with six solo, two assisted, and two special team stops. The one blemish on his night was a defensive holding penalty at Tampa Bay’s eight-yard line which put New England at the four yard line; the Patriots scored with less than a minute in the game on the ensuing play.

With the questionable play of other members of the secondary, it is nice to see a draft pick step up and play well when given an extended opportunity. In the previous two games and the past month in practice, Tandy hasn’t been given a lot of playing time until last week when he was on the field in nickel and dime packages.

Michael Smith
During the opening kickoff Smith cut to the right hash mark and was tripped up at the 33 yard line for a 39 yard return. The next time Smith saw the field was after a Patriots touchdown for a 17 yard kick return before having a break until the end of the third quarterback, when he returned a kick 22 yards. In the fourth quarter, Smith was in at running back, and like Martin, showed versatility as a runner and receiver. Smith began the fourth quarter with an 11 yard run at the right guard. The following two plays Smith caught passes from Dan Orlovsky, a four-yarder and 12 yard gain before running up the middle for seven yards. Smith had a short gain (three yards) on a first down, but wouldn’t see the ball again until the next Tampa Bay possession when he rushed twice for eight yards.

Smith returned three kicks for 78 yards, had six carries for 38 yards, and two catches for 16 yards.

Like Martin, Smith is a versatile running back who not only utilizes his speed on returns, but flashes his power as a running back. Smith is also effective in pass protection and can catch the ball. Due to not only his talent, but also his versatility, Smith should easily land on the final 53-man roster.

Drake Dunsmore
The seventh round draft pick out of Northwestern saw limited time in Friday night’s 30-28 win over New England, but was targeted once.

Other Rookies of Note

Danny Noble
The undrafted player out of Toledo has played very well the past two weeks both against Miami and Tennessee and during practice. 
Like Dunsmore, Noble saw limited time with the same results as his fellow rookie tight end.

Leonard Johnson 
The local product from Clearwater struggled with his coverage allowing Hernandez a 12 yard reception, then missed the tackle. Against Brandon Lloyd, Johnson again allowed a 12 yard gain. With two minutes left in the third quarter, Johnson was flagged for pass interference. 
Like Tandy, Johnson needed an impressive outing in the most important preseason game, but unlike Tandy, Johnson didn’t step up when it was most important. However, the secondary is thin and Johnson does have value as a developmental player. 
Last modified on Saturday, 25 August 2012 00:26

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  • avatar

    Martin is going to be a star, But Blount is still going to be in the mix and probably get only a few less touches than Martin. Martin can catch which will be important in this offense, but Blount can run through and over people. He reminds me of a thinner and faster Mike Alstott. My guess is that the Groin Injury will slow him down for a week or two but he will be ready and 100% by week two. THere are a lot of rookies to be excited about. This may be our best draft in a long time.
  • avatar

    i really feel martin will make a major difference in the backfield,but iwas unaware of #34 skillset. i hope he stix around as well as the young man with the hightop fade..
  • avatar

    From what I could tell David was doing just fine and had a qb pressure and 2 solo tackles one right in front of Barron where Barron had planned on assisting but realized David had this all the way.
  • avatar

    Martin and Smith look very promising.
  • avatar

    I was wrong about picking up Martin in the 1st round instead of waiting to the 2nd round. He is a much better player than Blount. Blount just doesn't plow through the line like the last two years. I think he is running too high to assure he doesn't fumble. He just looks slower. The Leonard Johson flag for pass interference was very weak and it didn''t appear he made hardly any contact at all. Johson has looked good in preseason and will make the team or at least the Practice Squad.
  • avatar

    I was not overly impressed with Martin. He looked ok but I would have liked to see Blount get more carries with 1st string. I'm not sure if this is due to the Bucs be cautious with Blount or has Martin taken over as the starter. I personally haven't seen enough to think Martin has won the job.
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