LeGarrette Blount was giving nothing to the Buccaneers' first-round pick and fellow running back Doug Martin during the spring, and for good reason. Tampa was still giving Blount most of the first-team reps, sending a clear message to Martin that everything he got would be earned. Less than a week into camp, Martin has earned the starting job and some lofty comparisons.
On Sunday, July 29, Stephen Holder of the Tampa Bay Times reported that Martin was off to a "fast start," taking the "large majority" of first-team snaps and a bigger share of pass-protection reps . Holder also shared that Martin's burst, decisiveness and speed was giving them the ability to put more perimeter runs and tosses to the outside.
On Monday, July 30, Scott Reynolds of the Pewter Report gushed about Martin, calling him "one of the stars of camp." Reynolds went on to say that the star rookie "has done virtually everything right," and that Blount was now sharing snaps with backups Mossis Madu and Michael Smith instead of Martin, who had been running with the second team more often in the spring.
Today, Rick Stroud of Tampa Bay Times reported that Buccaneers starring guard Davin Joseph said Martin reminds him of Maurice Jones-Drew or Ray Rice. Stroud also reported that head coach Greg Schiano, who had Rice at Rutgers, "sees similarities" between Rice and Martin. Joseph did say that Blount is his favorite back on the Tampa roster, but that is likely because offensive linemen love the downhill power backs.
By Week 1, we could be putting Martin in the Hall of Fame. While it's easy to ignore positive news out of training camp because of the tendency towards optimism, the trend in the news about Martin is clear. Everyone watching him is impressed. So much so that the training camp battle for the starting running back job could be over before it even started.