TAMPA – Just as you no doubt expected him to after a four-week layoff, Buccaneers running back Doug Martin wore down as the game in which he made his 2017 season debut wore on last week.
Martin doesn’t expect to suffer through a similar slide when the Bucs travel to Arizona to take on the Cardinals on Sunday. In fact, he says he’s ready to go wire to wire this time out.
“I feel like I can handle anything coach asks me to do,’’ Martin said Thursday, a week after he made his return to the Bucs in a 19-14 loss to the Patriots. “I’m prepared to do everything.’’
Martin actually did a little bit of everything in his first game back after serving out the final three games of the four-game suspension he earned late last year for violating the NFL’s PED policy.
He played 26 snaps and ran the ball 13 times for 74 yards. He also caught the one catchable pass thrown his way for 8 more yards. But he wore down after he ran six times for 48 yards and a touchdown early in the second quarter.
That and the fact the Bucs were playing from behind forced coach Dirk Koetter to all but shut Martin down in the fourth quarter, but Martin says he still considers his debut to have been a successful one.
“I was surprised at how quick some of the stuff came back to me,’’ Martin said. “I was surprised at how quickly the reads came and how the twitch was and how good (my) cuts were. It was a good feeling to have.’’
Martin hopes to have that same feeling again during his encore performance Sunday in the desert. If he does he just may get his wish of going to wire to wire. Koetter isn’t making any promises, though.
“I think it will show itself in the game,’’ Koetter said when asked if he too thought Martin was ready for a full workload so soon after coming back from such a long layoff.
“Again, playing football is different than training for football and I’m sure he will catch up fast because he’s played and he’s a veteran player. So I think that will present itself.
“And we have no problem with any of our other backs. I mean, every back I’ve ever been around has thought he could take the ball 65 times a game. It’s just easier said than done.’’