Bucs RB Doug Martin - Photo by Cliff Welch/PR
In his first game back since straining his hamstring in Week 2, Doug Martin ran 16 times for 33 yards and a late touchdown in the Bucs 36-10 win over the Bears last Sunday.
While it wasn’t the electrifying return fans were probably hoping for, coaches were just focused on getting him acclimated to playing again. Mission accomplished.
“Getting his confidence back. I think that was the No. 1 thing,” offensive coordinator Todd Monken said Wednesday. “A soft tissue injury … (it was about) his ability to let it go and get out and run. I think that was critical that we got him work Sunday, but didn’t overwork him.”
A perfect illustration of that plan was the Bucs second to last drive in the fourth quarter. Martin, who played 31 of 75 offensive snaps in total, had already been taken out by then only to return once Tampa Bay reached the 1-yard line. Three carries later and he had his first touchdown of the season – a solid confidence booster without much labor.
“Dirk told me to get in there,” Martin said after the game. “It was pretty cool to get back there with [defensive tackle] Gerald McCoy as the lead blocker. It took us a little while but we got in there …
“Happy to be back. Just happy to be back.”
He’s not the only one. Quarterback Jameis Winston used the word “amazing” three times when asked after the game about having Martin in the backfield, while numerous offensive linemen spoke of their excitement to block for the Pro Bowl back again.
Monken said Martin’s presence alone could energize the team, but make no mistake. More carries and yards is the ultimate plan.
“Sure it does,” Monken said on return lifting the mood. “Having your best players out there, and his leadership … he’s only going to be better moving forward.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: [email protected]
It was great to have the Dougernaught back on the field! Although it was “just the Bears” there was an aura around the team that had been seriously lacking. The confidence exuded through the teams aggressive play on both sides of the ball. I can’t remember the last time I saw our defense jumping routes and getting after the opposing QB like we did on Sunday. It was a sight to behold and I hope to see more in KC.
As for Martin himself, I wasn’t expecting a 100-yard game. Building his confidence and comfort level was the key as it should have been. I hope to see a larger workload from him this coming Sunday, but Peyton Barber is a very viable option when easing Martin back into a full workload. The main concern is getting him working with as little risk of re-injury as possible. Simply having Martin on the field seemed to have played a huge factor in the game. I can only imagine what our offense will do when he’s back to Pro Bowl form. Go Bucs, Fire the Cannons, Siege the Day, and all that other good stuff Dougernaught!
I’ve been happy with the play of Barber, silver lining, he ‘s gotten valuable game reps. Would love to see Cross get some reps as lead blocker. Why carry a true fullback on the roster, only to have Stocker lead block, and McCoy lead blocking on goal line? McCoy gets enough snaps on defense, let’s keep him fresh. Having a fullback in instead of a T.E., and D.T., also opens the playbook up. On goal line, Cross would give you the option of the fullback dive, you wouldn’t try that with McCoy in. Fullbacks like Cross have a lower center of gravity. They are more likely to get under the pads of tackles, and linebackers. When a tall lead blocker gets stood up, the run is over. The one time Cross was in he cut a safety in two as Jameis threw a T.D., I want to see if he can do that lead blocking.
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