Doug Martin Says He's 'Stronger' After Rehab, Talks Support of Buccaneers

Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistMay 25, 2017

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 13: Doug Martin #22 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers runs with the ball against the Chicago Bears during the game at Raymond James Stadium on November 13, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. The Bucs defeated the Bears 36-10. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin discussed his status Thursday following a stay in drug rehabilitation.

According to ESPN.com's Jenna Laine, Martin believes the treatment was highly beneficial: "It was a journey of self-development. It was definitely hard being away from my friends and family. I found strength in the people I was with around the time. It was definitely worth it. I definitely turned a negative into a positive and I'm out here and I'm definitely a stronger person because of it."

He also credited quarterback Jameis Winston, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and the rest of the Bucs organization with supporting him: "I had a lot of support with my teammates, with Jameis and Gerald. They did a good job of rallying behind me, coach [Dirk Koetter] and [GM] Jason [Licht] as well—I'd like to thank them for standing behind me and for the support of the fans."

In Week 16 of the 2016 season, Martin was handed a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy against performance-enhancing drugs.

Martin served one game of his suspension last season and will miss the first three games of the 2017 campaign.

The 28-year-old veteran struggled through injuries and ineffectiveness, finishing 2016 with 421 rushing yards, 134 receiving yards and three total touchdowns in eight games. He also averaged a paltry 2.9 yards per carry.

It was a far cry from 2015, when the Muscle Hamster was named to his second career Pro Bowl and first All-Pro First Team by virtue of 1,402 rushing yards, 271 receiving yards and seven touchdowns from scrimmage.

Martin may have competition for carries when he returns from suspension, as Tampa retained running backs Charles Sims and Jacquizz Rodgers, while selecting Boise State's Jeremy McNichols in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL draft.

As a team, the Bucs ranked 24th in the NFL in rushing yardage per game last season (101.0) and tied for 28th in yards per carry (3.6).