Doug Martin to be Tampa’s “bell cow” after injuries to Sims, James

AP

Over the course of the offseason, Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith and offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford each said that the team wanted to use a variety of running backs this season in order to keep Doug Martin fresh and healthy after his 2013 season came to an early end with a shoulder injury.

As the old saying goes, though, man plans and the injury rate for running backs in the NFL laughs. The Bucs have lost rookie Charles Sims for much of the season to an ankle injury and Mike James is sidelined by a shoulder injury, cutting what was once a deep backfield down to Martin and Bobby Rainey. According to Smith, the result will be a familiar role for Martin.

“With Mike James going down with an injury and with Charles going down, [Martin and Rainey] need to play at a certain level,” Smith said, via the Associated Press. “They’re both good players, but Doug is our bell cow. He likes that role. He’s had a good camp, hasn’t missed a beat.”

If that’s going to work out, the Bucs are going to need to sort out their issues at guard sooner rather than later because there’s only so many times you can send a back into a swarm of defenders before he doesn’t get back up.