TAMPA – Just as we suspected he would, Doug Martin started for the Buccaneers at tailback on Sunday. It was Peyton Barber who finished the game at that spot, though, and you have to wonder if he didn’t finally finish off Martin as the starter in doing so.
After running 23 times for 102 yards in place of a concussed Martin against the Packers last week, Barber followed up by running 12 times for 58 yards as a replacement for a once-again ineffective Martin in the second half of the Bucs 24-21 loss to the Lions on Sunday.
That’s two good performances in a row for Barber, who sure looks like he’s the better of the two backs right now. After all, in his past two games, Barber has run for an average of 4.6 yards per carry. Martin has run like that just once in his last eight starts.
Oh, and it was Barber, of course, who helped spark the Bucs turnover-prone offense on Sunday, running the ball nine times for 45 yards in that second half that Martin sat and watched from the sideline after he fumbled the ball away on his last touch of the first half.
But if you are once again thinking that the Bucs are ready to turn their lead back duties over to Barber, well think again. Though Barber has seemingly earned a longer look and maybe even an opportunity to start ahead of Martin, it’s seems unlikely he’ll get it.
When asked Sunday after the game if Barber had more or less earned the right to play ahead of Martin or if Martin had earned his seat on the bench by failing to run the ball well or by fumbling it away, coach Dirk Koetter was non-committal once again.
“It was Peyton’s turn to start off in the second half and he was doing a good job and so we stayed with him,’’ was all Koetter would say about the decision to lean more on Barber in the second half than Martin. “And then we used Charles Sims there a little bit hat the last two drives.’’
The Bucs are going to have a big decision to make here very soon regarding Martin’s future and they do need to know what he’s capable of, but they also have to know what Barber can do for them and the best way to do that is to play him and play him a lot.
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