Doug Martin got the ball 495 times in his first 21 NFL games. And in his 22nd game, Martin suffered a season-ending shoulder injury.
Now the new Bucs coaching staff is saying that in order to preserve Martin’s health, he’ll get a smaller workload than the old coaching staff gave him. Offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford has previously 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.”
The backup running backs in Tampa include Bobby Rainey, who led the team in rushing after Martin went down last year; Mike James, who showed some promise averaging 4.9 yards a carry as a rookie in 2013; and Charles Sims, this year’s third-round pick. Smith will give all of them a chance to earn carries, but he made clear that Martin knows the coaching staff is committed to him.
“Don’t pay any attention to that. Doug’s a good football player. He knows that. You don’t see Doug complaining. He knows what our plans are for him,” Smith said.
Smith’s primary plan is to keep Martin healthy.