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.
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