The Tampa Bay Buccaneers begin the 2014 offseason with hope that the return of injured players will serve as an initial boost toward returning the team to contention for the playoffs. Mike Williams, Doug Martin and Carl Nicks represent a large portion of the offensive talent in Tampa, and all three have been in the news recently in regards to their injuries.
According to Buccaneers.com, Doug Martin is progressing at an “encouraging pace” from his shoulder injury, and should be ready to work with the team on April 7, when organized workouts begin. Martin’s loss in 2014 was overshadowed by the emergence of Mike James and Bobby Rainey, but there’s no doubt that Martin has more pure speed than either James or Rainey, and the Boise State product is also tougher to tackle when breaking away from the first level.
Lovie Smith and Jeff Tedford have both sung the praises of a balanced offense with a running game, so having Martin along with James and Rainey will present plenty of options for the new Tampa Bay coaching staff.
Martin had a slightly disappointing season in 2013, even before he was sidelined with his injury. The Tampa Bay running game couldn’t get off the ground in the early going due to a lack of a threat from the passing game, and poor run blocking from the offensive line.
The other bit of injury news should be encouraging for the latter point.
Carl Nicks has reportedly been progressing well from his injury, and has been rehabbing daily to work his way back to health for 2014.
Coach Smith said he has met with Carl Nicks and Nicks’ rehab is going well. Said Nicks is excited about the upcoming season.
— Scott Smith (@ScottSBucs) January 31, 2014
Bucs coach Lovie Smith says LG Carl Nicks has been rehabbing daily at One Buc Place. Did not say when he expects him back on the field
— Roy Cummings (@RCummingsTBO) January 31, 2014
A return to health for Nicks would be a huge boost to the Tampa Bay offensive line, who are already set at three other positions (left tackle, right tackle and center) and only need a right guard to complete their group (either an incredibly quick return to form from Davin Joseph or a new player at the position).
Carl Nicks’ status will be worth keeping an eye on all summer, as he works his way back from multiple foot ailments that have reportedly put his career in danger. But if he is able to return, he’ll be a key member of the 2014 Buccaneers.