Updates from Monday, March 31
Doug Martin updated fans on his health following his labrum injury:
CLEARED!!!! Excited to be back y'all!!— Doug Martin (@DougMartin22) March 31, 2014
Remember Doug Martin? The running back that broke out in 2012 for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with five games of over 125 yards and 11 total touchdowns as a rookie?
The Bucs featured back said he should have medical clearance at some point this week and be able to participate in minicamp when it rolls around on April 22. As for his thoughts on returning to the field, Martin made it simple, per Brown, saying, "It’s been too long since I’ve been in the game. I can’t wait to get back on the field."
But with a new head coach coming in, would Martin still retain his role as the No. 1 back for the Bucs? Lovie Smith ended any discussions about that, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times:
Smith says their offense is a running attack that can pass the football. Doug Martin will be the bell cow but they will have backup help.— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) March 26, 2014
Can Martin return to dominance in Tampa Bay?
Those backups will include the likes of Bobby Rainey and Mike James, who both put together several great games in Martin's absence. Before his injury, Martin was limited to just 456 yards and one touchdown through six games during the team's six-game losing streak to begin the season.
Martin will have to get used to not only a new head coach in Smith, but also a new offensive coordinator in Jeff Tedford and quarterback in Josh McCown, who has already been handed the starting job.
Much of that chemistry with new teammates and coaches is built during the offseason, so Martin's presence in minicamps and other workouts will be crucial. As for the team's offensive mentality under Tedford, Smith divulged a little on what the team will look like, according to Pewter Report on Twitter:
Smith said expects the Bucs offense to include power running game with big play ability in the passing game.— Pewter Report (@PewterReport) January 6, 2014
If the Bucs get Martin back for the regular season, his ability to shed tackles and run with authority will fit perfectly into the new system. And if he can return to the form that he showed during his rookie season, the NFC South could be wide open yet again in 2014.
Thanks to his explosive ability on the field and his nose for the end zone, Tampa Bay should have an offensive weapon back that it lacked for much of last season if Martin can remain healthy. And with the likes of Vincent Jackson and Timothy Wright as receiving options for the Bucs, brighter days appear to be ahead for the franchise.
Follow R. Cory Smith on Twitter.