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Bucs cut former star running back Doug Martin

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Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

It appeared the second half of last season that the Bucs and made up their mind to “move on” from former feature running back Doug Martin. On Tuesday morning, they went ahead and made it official, releasing the six year veteran running back.

The team confirmed the move on social media:

Martin was drafted in the first round out of Boise State in 2012 and had a spectacular rookie season that included him breaking the Bucs single game rushing record against the Oakland Raiders with 251 yards in a 42-32 win.

After being named to the Pro Bowl that rookie year with 1,926 yards from scrimmage and having great expectation for his career, Martin struggled to get anything going in year two, and eventually suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in a game against Atlanta in October of that year.

With new head coach Lovie Smith at the helm, Martin battled ankle and knee sprain issues in 2014 and had another ineffective season. However, when new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter showed up in 2015, Martin had a spectacular year rushing for 1,402 yards, which was good enough for second in the NFL that year. And he was back in the Pro Bowl that year.

Unfortunately, with Koetter elevated to head coach, a similar pattern emerged again, as Martin suffered a hamstring injury in game two of his 2016 season, and ended up missing most of or all of seven games before returning. When he did return, Martin was then suspended by the NFL for four games for violating the performance enhancing drugs policy.

He sat out the final game of the 2016 season and there had been great speculation that the Buccaneers might go ahead and release him before the 2017 season. This was because he was going to have to serve the final three games of the suspension that season, as well.

Martin looked fit and in shape in August for Bucs camp, and the team did hold on to him. He went ahead and sat the first three games, but was largely ineffective again after that.

That’s when the Buccaneers made it apparent they were likely going to move on from Martin. They utilized second year undrafted running back Peyton Barber much more including starting him in the final two games of 2017.

Martin thanked the Glazer family, Bucs GM Jason Licht, and the fans, etc. in an Instagram post on Tuesday afternoon:

Thank you Tampa Bay!!! Its been a journey!! ????✌????☺️

A post shared by Doug Martin (@dougmartin22) on

Releasing Martin saves the Buccaneers his $6.75 millon in 2018 non-guaranteed salary. That money does however, count as “dead money” for the salary cap this season.

Tuesday’s move also almost assures that Tampa Bay will either try to make a big splash with a running back in free agency, and/or very early in the upcoming NFL draft.

The Buccaneers currently have the 7th overall pick.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Final injury updates for Bucs and Jaguars Sunday games

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

As the Buccaneers get set to head to New York to play the Giants and the Jaguars are preparing to host the Steelers Sunday, it’s time to take a look at the injuries in those two games. (Reminder the Dolphins have their bye week for this weekend.)

Here’s a look at the latest:

For the Bucs, there Friday injury report has defensive names littered all over it and the news is not good for some of them.

After we were told by a source that Lavonte David was going to try to play Sunday, he apparently was overruled by the training staff and head coach Dirk Koetter, etc, and the Pro Bowl linebacker will be inactive with his sprained knee. Likewise, Vinny Curry will miss another game at defensive end, his fourth in the last five with a sprained ankle.

It’s the same situation with second year safety Justin Evans, who will miss the game with an injured toe suffered in the game with Washington last week. Defensive end Carl Nassib, who’s been a pleasant find off the waiver wire at the beginning of the season,  is questionable with a left elbow injury suffered agains the Redskins, although he was able to practice on Friday.

The Bucs also list their receiver Chris Godwin as questionable with an ankle injury, and another important injury is starting center Ryan Jensen, who’s questionable with a hamstring injury. If Jensen is unable to play Sunday, then Ali Marpet, starting at left guard this year, but who played center a lot of 2017, would likely take his place.

The Buccaneers opponents, the Giants, had four players on their injury list this week, but all of them are now slated to play in the game on Sunday.

For the Jaguars match-up, they have two significant injuries to update, starting linebacker Telvin Smith was able to practice this week with his shoulder injury and is listed as questionable, but expected to play against Pittsburgh. There is concern for defensive tackle Marcell Dareus with a triceps injury and he is also listed as questionable. Dareus will likely be a game time decision.

Defensive back A.J. Bouye has been bothered by a calf injury, but he is also expected to play after being able to practice Thursday and Friday and listed as questionable. Coach Doug Marrone also announced that tackle Erik Flowers, who left last week’s game with tendonitis in his knee will start on the makeshift Jaguars line.

As we wrote earlier in the week, Jacksonville placed Center Brandon Linder on injured reserve with a knee injury suffered in last week’s lost Indianapolis.

The Steelers have no significant injuries, despite Ben Roethlisberger and James Conner both being on the injured list,. They will both be playing on Sunday. Connor was a much bigger concern having been in concussion protocol earlier after suffering one in the win last Thursday night over Carolina.

However, he cleared the protocol and was able to fully practice this week.

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Bucs DE Jason Pierre-Paul ready to go get Eli Manning Sunday

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s one of those juicy subplots that we see all the time now in professional sports. A player gets to go against his old team and show them that maybe they made a mistake and letting him go. In this case on Sunday, Bucs defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul will battle against his old team, the New York Giants. And that means, against a lot of former teammates.

One in specific, quarterback Eli Manning, maybe less than thrilled.

JPP has been one of the most dominant edge rushers in the NFL over the last decade, nevertheless, the Giants elected to trade into the Buccaneers back in March.

So when the organization that you won the Superbowl with in 2011 has decided to move on without you, there’s naturally going to be some questions from the media about you playing against them for the first time. And, you going against their borderline Hall of Fame signal-caller, Manning.

Such was the case Wednesday in the Buccaneers locker room prior to practice:

Pierre-Paul has already energized the Bucs pass rush and has eight sacks in the first nine games. This includes a streak of five consecutive games with a sack earlier this season. That is the first time since Simeon rice in 2002 that a Buccaneer had five straight games with a sack in a single season.

And coming into Sunday at The Meadowlands he has 66 1/2 of them in his career and would love nothing better than to take down the leader of the G-Men.

And while the Giants did look better on offense in their Monday night comeback win over the 49ers, it has clearly been a struggle for them to pass protect, specifically, throughout the early part of this season.

Pierre-Paul has to have been salivating watching their offensive line whiff and get run over in game after game.

Further, Buccaneer defenders like pro bowlers Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David, plus players like Will gholston Brent Grimes and young safety Justin Evans went against Manning in a Tampa Bay’s win last September against the Giants.

A game that the Buccaneers squeaked out 25-23. A game where is Eli Manning threw it 49 times and wasn’t sacked once by the Buccaneers front seven. That’s a pass rush that was last in the NFL in sacks a year ago.

However, that was 2017. And, circling back to Pierre-Paul, he hopes to change that starting Sunday.

And, while it will be weird for him to dress in the visiting dressing room at MetLife Stadium and stand on the visiting near sidelines, he’s ready to put all of that aside, try to help the Bucs climb off the canvas and get a win in the Big Apple.

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What is status of Bucs LB LaVonte David’s injured knee?

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a rough enough last seven games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, now comes word that another prominent defender may miss this week’s match-up with the Giants. A report Tuesday afternoon said that linebacker Lavonte David has been diagnosed with a knee sprain and his status is in doubt. That may not be the case, though. More on that in a moment.

First, Jenna Laine, the ESPN reporter for the Bucs, reported Tuesday afternoon about David’s injury from Sunday:

David was injured in the third quarter of Sunday’s lost to the Redskins, while making a tackle. He was examined underneath the “mysterious blue tent” and was initially diagnosed as being questionable to return to the game. He did return and played in the fourth quarter of the 16-3 loss to Washington.

And, a source with knowledge of David situation told F.F.I. on Monday that David had been examined, and it was not believed to be a serious injury. Further, the source told us that David would wear a knee brace this week in practice and be able to play in the game on Sunday.

The seven year veteran and two-time Pro Bowler is one of the key players on the Buccaneers defense and currently has 71 tackles with nine of them for losses. And he’s being counted on more heavily after Pro Bowl middle linebacker Kwon Alexander tore his ACL in an October game with Cleveland and will miss the rest of the season.

The Bucs have also seen starters in the defensive backfield Vernon Hargreaves and Chris Conte already placed on injured reserve back in September. Also Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy missed two games with a calf strain and has not looked a hundred percent in the last two games with Carolina and Washington since coming back from the injury.

If David is unable to play or is limited on Sunday, the Bucs will count more heavily on reserve linebacker Devante Bond. Bond has seen more playing time after Alexander’s injury and will be asked to increase his responsibilities in the middle of the Buccaneers defense, as well.

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