Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin got the ball 495 times in his first 21 games as a Buccaneer. Come the 22nd game, he suffered a season ending shoulder injury.
Now, the new coaching staff wants to relive some of the pressure as well as preserve his health. To do this, they’ll spread the ball around the position and not rely specifically on Martin. Offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford has said that the Bucs will have a division of labor in the backfield, and head coach Lovie Smith said Tuesday that he wants to keep Martin from overdoing it.
“What I’ve said is I like Doug a lot. Doug’s a good football player,” Smith said, via the Tampa Bay Times. “Everywhere I’ve ever been, if you look at my history, our history, we’ve played more than one running back. We had a great running back in Thomas Jones, and we drafted Cedric Benson and played them both. One running back just can’t make it through the season.”
Martin’s backups include Bobby Rainey, Charles Sims and Mike James. Rainey led the team in rushing yards after Martin went down last season. Sims is this year’s fourth-round pick, and James averaged 4.9 yards per carry in 2013. They’ve got some good options besides Martin.
Smith is expected to give them all a chance to show their stuff on the field.