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Tampa 2: Bucs Rookie Duo Making Push for ROY

After doing his best Reggie Jackson Mr. October impression, Bucs rookie running backDoug Martin has quickly emerged as a household name in the NFL community. Splashy plays (and a funky nickname) will do that for you, and Martin has put together nothing less than a video game-esque highlight reel in October and November.

And still, he might not even be the most likely rookie of the year candidate in the Bucs locker room.

That distinctionvery well may go to linebacker Lavonte David. With 87 total tackles, David is top five in the league with that stat. His 67 solo stops are second best.

Sure, I know. Tackles are a tough stat to really gauge as far being a true acumen of a players productivity. Ask any Barrett Ruud detractor about that.

But David has given the Bucs what theyve lacked at outside linebacker since Derrick Brooks hung them up a relentless tackler who is always around the ball and rarely fails to bring the ballcarrier down. Davids overall speed and lateral quickness is impressive. Its no coincidence that his performance comes for a defense that has improved exponentially against the run, allowing the fewest yards per game (80) and per carry (3.5) in the league.

Davids main competition for the defensive rookie of the year position could come from Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly, a name that many Bucs fans expected to hear coming to One Buc Place back on draft day. However, while Kuechly appears to be a rising star, the obscurity of playing on a last-place team wont be easy to overcome. Seattle's Bruce Irvin leads all NFL rookies with 7 sacks and should also be a strong contender. New England's Chandler Jones (6 sacks) also is in the hunt.

While Martin is having a breakout year, Andrew Luck has led the Indianapolis Colts to a 6-3 record, and Russell Wilson is making an increasingly strong case, especially if he can lead the Seahawks to the playoffs or a division title. And lets not kid ourselves, this is a passing league and a quarterback favored award.

Still, Martin is doing the best he can to make his case. He has surpassed 100 yards from scrimmage in each of the last 5 games. Hes had a rush or catch of over 35 yards ineach game of that stretch. Hes averaging 96 rushing yards per game and is on pace for 1533 rushing yards. Not surprisingly, the Bucs are 4-1 in that span, scoring 28 or more points each game.

Even if neither ultimately wins the award, both Martin and David are poised to help form a solid foundation in Tampa for years to come.


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