Sunday represents the second half of the season for Tampa Bay, and the Bucs are looking at it as a chance to push the reset button on their video game console. They’re also poised to do it as healthy as they have been since the season began last September, with the possible return of a key component on offense.

After straining his hamstring in Week 2 and suffering a setback prior to the Bucs Week 5 win in Carolina, Doug Martin returned to practice in limited action Monday. It was a welcome sight for a team that has lost four running backs to injuries over eight weeks.

Before hitting the field on Tuesday – and hopeful to add to his workload – the Pro Bowl running back told members of the media that he’s optimistic he’ll be ready this Sunday when Tampa Bay takes on the Bears, but the recovery process is a delicate one.

“We’re still seeing if I’m ready to go full-speed and that’s why I’m taking so many precautions,” Martin said at his locker. “We’re seeing where I can go from there, but I’m hoping I can (play this Sunday).”

Bucs RB Doug Martin - Photo by: Getty Images

Bucs RB Doug Martin – Photo by: Getty Images

Martin, at one point hopeful that he’d be available for Monday Night Football against the Panthers, called the initial setback “devastating.”

“I thought I was ready to go. I pushed it a little too hard and had the setback,” he said, adding that he and the medical and training staff are proceeding with even more caution this time. “We’re just taking all the proper steps to make sure I’m fully healthy and make sure I don’t have another setback. That’s what’s been going on. It sucked.”

Adding to Martin’s frustration has been seeing his fellow running backs go down. Jacquizz Rodgers, who rushed for 255 yards in his first two starts, sustained a foot injury against the Raiders while Antone Smith, signed in October to give the backfield depth, took a bad blow against the Falcons and is headed to IR. And to think neither injury would’ve happened had Charles Sims not suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 4.

To put it mildly, the Bucs have been hit hard at the position.

“You’ve had guys step up, Quizz (Jacquizz Rodgers), Tone (Antone Smith), and these guys who are stepping up,” Martin said.  “Then you see them go down and it’s hard to see. You want to get in there but you can’t.”

Things are looking good for his chances this week. Martin said he woke up after his first practice feeling fine physically and is excited to finally join the team on the field.

“It was good to get the pads back on and go out there with my brothers,” Martin said. “Got to go out there and do some running back drills, and I felt good doing them … “I just have to take all the proper steps in order to get back onto the field.”

After running wild for 250 yards in a 34-17 win over the 49ers, the Bucs Martin-less backfield dropped off, totaling just 86 and 59 yards against the Raiders and Falcons, respectively. The Bears, for those wondering, come in with the NFL’s 24th ranked run-defense, allowing an average of 96.6 yards per game.

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About the Author: Zach Shapiro

Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for 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]
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5 years ago

Highwood rest Martin one more week. We can beat Chicago without him. We’re find on offense; it’s the defense I’m concerned about.

5 years ago

I would NOT highwood

5 years ago

We are far from “fine” on offense horse but I agree unless he’s 100% ready lets not risk having another setback and not playing all damn year. Been 9 weeks what’s another one at this point really.

I also wouldn’t mark the Bears off as a W just yet. We suck. We suck worse at home and the Bears had good game recently.