Bucs RB Doug Martin - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Tampa Bay Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter hinted that running back Doug Martin may get back to practice last week. It didn’t happen Monday, but No. 22 was out on the field going through drills Wednesday afternoon.
Martin’s missed the last six games after injuring his hamstring during Tampa Bay’s Week 2 loss at Arizona.
Running back and defensive end have been the two positions hardest hit by injuries this season. Third-down back Charles Sims III landed on injured reserve following Week 4’s loss against Denver, a foot injury kept replacement Jacquizz Rodgers sidelined last Thursday against Atlanta and Antone Smith, a replacement-to-the-replacement, is out for the year after a Thursday night knee injury.
The Bucs went into last week’s Thursday Night Football game against Atlanta with Smith, rookie Peyton Barber and Mike James manning the offensive backfield. The tandem combined for 56 yards on 16 carries (3.5 yards per attempt) and added seven receptions on nine targets for 51 yards.
Rodgers, the team’s leading rusher with 393 yards on 88 attempts, was again not practicing Wednesday, though he was seen earlier in the locker room not wearing a protective boot.
The four Bucs running backs practicing Wednesday were Martin, Barber, Mike James and Russell Hansbrough, another rookie activated from the practice squad recently.
Martin’s coming off a career year that saw him finish second in the NFL in rushing behind Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson and lead the league with 14 runs of 20 yards or more. Tampa Bay’s still averaging over 100 yards rushing per game (108.4) but Rodgers has accounted for 45.3 percent of the team’s total (393 of 867) and isn’t likely to play Sunday against Chicago.
Bucs RB Peyton Barber – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Depending upon Martin’s status this weekend, the Bucs are preparing for Barber to be the team’s lead back for a second straight week. He managed just 31 yards on 11 attempts Thursday night, though he is averaging 4.5 yards per carry on the year (27 attempts for 122 yards). Most of that production came three weeks ago in San Francisco when Barber scored a late 44-yard touchdown and finished with 84 yards on 12 carries.
Thrust into action earlier than expected, Barber said he feels more comfortable now that he’s logged a decent amount of NFL playing time.
“It definitely feels like night and day from where I was at in training camp,” the rookie out of Auburn said before practice Wednesday. “In camp my head was spinning, but now I’m really starting to get acquainted and comfortable with plays. Quizz tells me this all the time, and so does Doug and Charles: when you’re not playing still stay in your playbook, stay ready. You never know what could happen.”
I believe that yesterday Hansbrough got promoted to the active roster from the practice squad. Also, says Barber and James combined for seven receptions on nine carries, should that be passes thrown to?
Definitely errors. Fixed. Thanks for pointing them out, Randy! And yes, those were the targets.
Licking my chops to see what we can do with both Martin and Rodgers back in the lineup, with Barber to fill in. They will be Jameis Winston’s BFFs. Their presence in the backfield will force defenses to move the safeties up, which in turn frees up open space midfield for play action passing, especially given that Mike Evans continues to draw double teams. Pick your poison, defense!
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