When Greg Schiano got the Buccaneers head coaching job, he said he would ideally have a workhorse back like he had in Ray Rice at Rutgers.
It is increasingly looking like rookie first-round pick Doug Martin is going to have first crack at being that guy. Although Martin struggled this spring with a hamstring injury, the rookie still impressed the Bucs coaches with his well-rounded game. Martin has flashed skills as a runner, receiver and pass blocker, the last of which is a skill he needs to have in his arsenal to stay on the field as much as Schiano hopes.
“The thing that they struggle with most of the time is pass protection and especially nickel pass protection, but I don’t think that’s going to be an issue with him,” Buccaneers running backs coach Earnest Byner said, via Pewter Report. “He has done some good things. He has some quickness. Doug is really smart, and eager to grab some of the concepts that we are teaching. He is excited to come out here and play for the Buccaneers.”
LeGarrette Blount hasn’t been pushed aside yet and his efforts to become more protective of the football will help him keep fighting for the job, but picking a running back in the first round comes with certain expectations. Even if Martin doesn’t wind up being a Rice-style workhorse, it looks like his skill set gives him a leg up in the competition for playing time come the regular season.