TAMPA – Running Doug Martin didn’t waste any time rewarding the Buccaneers for their patience on Thursday night.
On his first touch of the season, after missing three games while he served out his suspension for a 2016 PED violation, Martin gained 8 yards. It wasn’t until fatigue hit him late in the game that he slowed down.
“At the beginning I felt real good,’’ Martin said. “Towards the end there, though, down the line, I could tell I’d been out for four weeks. But that’s something I’ll work on with the few extra days off we have coming.’’
That’s not the only thing Martin says he needs to work on. After he let a couple of perhaps too-high-to catch throws slip through his hands he said he needs to work on his pass catching too.
Beyond that, though, Martin and the Bucs were all pleased with the two-time Pro Bowlers return to the lineup as he proved to be one of the true highlights in the Bucs disappointing 19-14 loss to the Patriots.
Before he started feeling the effects of his long layoff, Martin caught one pass for 8 yards and ran 13 times for 74 (5.7) and a touchdown, that coming on this 1-yard dive over the line at the end of a drive that was virtually all Martin.
— NFL (@NFL) October 6, 2017
Martin churned out 48 of his yards during that early second-quarter series, one that first appeared to end with Martin’s 11-yard run through the defense on a first-and-10 play from the New England 11.
“Yeah, I thought I got it the first time, but I wasn’t sure,’’ said Martin, who was ruled down at the 1 after video replays showed his knee hit the ground before the ball crossed the plane of the goal line.
“But just in case, I went over the second time. The linemen did a good job today and we are going to keep getting better. We have a good break and I’m going to use that time to work on my hands and everything that I need to work on.’’
The only thing Martin really needs to work on is staying in the lineup. As it was all through training camp and the preseason, Martin is simply at a different level than all the other Bucs backs.
Shoot, he’s at a level that’s different than all but a few backs across the league. He’ll never be a home-run hitter but his blend of quickness and power is truly rare and he proved that again Thursday.
“Doug looked good. He definitely gave us a lift,’’ Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said. “He looked fast. Doug, you can tell, he’s explosive. He’s going to help us.’’
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