The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are chomping at the bit to get their Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin on the field again, but the chances that happens this Sunday aren’t looking good.
The Buccaneers returned to the practice field Monday and there were some glaring absences; Gerald McCoy, Clinton McDonald, Robert Ayers, Vincent Jackson, and Doug Martin. It was looking like Martin would return from his hamstring injury this week having come off the bye, but another no show at practice could be a sign that Martin isn’t quite ready to go yet.
There is some cautious optimism within the locker room about players returning, but at this point it’s merely speculation;
The Buccaneers’ offense has been struggling with the absence of Doug Martin, most notably Jameis Winston’s perceived regression. With no threat of a running attack, opposing defenses have been able to key in on Winston and the passing game with little to no threat of Charles Sims wreaking havoc out of the backfield.
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Doug Martin’s return is vital to the success of this team moving forward. With the run game now down to Jacquizz Rodgers and recently signed Antone Smith, defenses will continue to put the pressure on Jameis and force him to compensate in the air, which can lead to the type of mistakes Jameis has been prone to make.
Even if Martin returns to practice this week, that is still no guarantee that he will play on Sunday in San Francisco. And should he get some playing time, he would likely be placed on a limited snap count to ease him back in, minimizing the risk of re-injury.
Keep a close eye on practice updates this week. Although we all hope Doug Martin is able to return, we may see a heavy dose of Jacquizz Rodgers once again. The 49ers’ run defense is worst in the NFL, especially without Navarro Bowman, giving up 174.3 yards per game. With the way Rodgers ran against the Panthers, utilizing him in addition to Doug Martin getting re-acclimated may be the recipe for success on the west coast.