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Reinstated, Buccaneers Doug Martin says he expects to play Thursday

Roy Cummings

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Photo by Icon/Sportswire
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TAMPA – Short of running repeatedly into a brick wall a few times each day, which he refused to do during his hiatus, Doug Martin says there’s no way an NFL running back can simulate the kind of beating he takes during a game if he’s not actually playing the game.

It’s all but guaranteed then that Martin won’t be as physically ready for the kind of jolt he’s going to take should he be allowed to make his season debut for the Buccaneers when they return to action this Thursday night. But Martin says that won’t keep him off the field.

 “I’m ready to go,’’ said Martin, who added that he fully expects to play Thursday when the Bucs take on the Patriots in the first game Martin will be eligible for after serving out the final three games of the four-game suspension he earned for violating the NFL’s PED policy last year.

“I had a good plan out there in California (where I worked out while I was away) and the guys there really helped me out a lot,’’ Martin added. “So I’ll be as ready as I can be, and I’m ready to play hard for these guys and do what I know I can do for them.’’

 The Bucs don’t have to rush Martin into the lineup. They’re coming off a game in which Jacquizz Rodgers ran 16 times for 83 yards and the team as whole legged out 111 yards on 23 carries overall. It’s likely, though, that Martin will be in the mix against the Patriots.

Bucs coach Dirk Koetter didn’t speak to the media on Monday, so that belief could not be confirmed, but the team did waive tight end Alan Cross to make room on the roster for Martin, who believes he could adapt very quickly to NFL game speed once he finally does get back on the field.

 “It might take me a game,’’ Martin said when asked how long he thought he’d need to grow accustomed to the violent nature of the game. “But I might only need the first drive. We’ll just have to wait and see. I just know that I’m ready to go.’’

 Martin said he spent his down time working out in an effort to be as close to game shape as he could upon his return. He said he intensified his workouts on Sundays to get his body used to the increased workload that comes on game day but also spent those days watching the Bucs.

 “That was weird,’’ Martin said of watching the three Bucs games he was suspended for. “I was in California so we had to go somewhere to find the game, but they did a good job of holding their own while I was away. I’m just glad I’m back now.’’

The Bucs probably feel the same way. Though they did hold their own without Martin, winning two of their three games, the Bucs are averaging just 84.7 yards rushing per game (26th in the NFL) and 3.8 yards per carry (19th in the NFL).

A two-time Pro Bowler who has twice run for more than 1,400 yards in a season, Martin has the ability to give that running game a boost. It may take a game or two for that to happen, but even in the interim, Martin believes he can bring something else the team might need.

 “Fresh legs,’’ he said.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Fantasy Football “Start/Sit” for Florida players Week 14

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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Everyone’s favorite time of year has arrived, that is if you had a good season. The fantasy playoffs are here, and if you made it, chances are some Florida players helped get there.

This week the Buccaneers will host the reeling Colts. The Jaguars will host the under-performing Chargers, and the Dolphins travel to play the ever-disappointing Jets.

The Buccaneers will entertain the Colts, who have the 13th overall defense. The Colts are 1-4 in their last five games and desperately need a win. Last week, they were torched on the ground by Titans RB Derick Henry. However, this was the first 100-yard rusher against the Colts this season.

The Bucs again surprised fantasy players last week, when Ronald Jones was benched in the first half for not picking up a blitz. This led to Peyton Barber scoring two touchdowns, while Jones had zero points. The Colts have surrendered two passing touchdowns in each of their last three games. Last week the Tampa Bay offense didn’t have to do nearly as much as usual.

This week, expect the Bucs vertical passing to be back throwing the ball at least 35 times. With a stout run defense, Jameis Winston will need to be at the top of his game in a big test for this Bucs team.

The Jaguars offense has been rough through the air with Nick Foles back. Now, Foles is back on the bench in favor of rookie, Gardner Minshew. The Chargers come into town with the 4th ranked pass defense, but let Drew Lock and Cortland Sutton connect for 74 yards and two touchdowns. The Chargers own the 18th ranked rush defense, and that is music to the ears of Leonard Fournette.

It has been a rough couple of weeks for the running back facing some stout run defenses. This weekend look for Fournette to get back on track. With the return of Minshew means the D.J. Chark becomes even more attractive. Chark was still the top guy with Foles in, but he and Minshew have a good connection.

The Dolphins are coming off one of the stunners of the year beating the Eagles in a 37-31 shootout. This week they set their sights on the Jets, who just gave the Bengals their first win. The Jets have the leagues’ best-run defense, which is usually significant. However, the Dolphins can’t run the ball effectively at all.

That means Ryan Fitzpatrick will be throwing a lot against the 19th ranked pass defense.

Last week Fitzpatrick and Devante Parker destroyed the Eagles secondary. This week they will have all the opportunities to do the same thing to the Jets. With the tight end position a mess, Mike Gesicki is an option again, who has scored in two straight games.

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Colts Kicker Adam Vinateri out for Bucs game

Abbey Radeka

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Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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The Colts are traveling to Tampa Bay but will likely take on the Bucs without their future Hall of Fame Kicker, Adam Vinatieri.

Before the matchup last week against the Titans, Vinatieri had began to experience a bit of pain in his left knee, the leg he plants to kick with his right leg. He told reporters that the pain began to increase through the week which led him to be placed on the Colt’s injury report for the first time this season.

Later Friday afternoon, Indy made Vinatieri’s “out” status official:

Vinatieri who is currently the NFL’s all-time leading scorer, has struggled to be consistent this season and has made a career-low 68% of his field goal attempts. He’s cost the Colt’s a couple of games in his missed eight field goals and six extra points.

Colts head coach Frank Reich said Wednesday that Vinatieri saw some doctors and got scans to figure out the severity of the problem. From there, they’ll consult with doctors and make a decision, which could potentially end his career. He’s currently sitting at 599 made FGs in his 24 seasons, just one shy of the 600 mark.

Earlier this week, Indianapolis secured rookie kicker Chase McLaughlin off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers and the 45 year old Pro Bowler had said on Thursday that if he got the go ahead from everyone, he’d take the field on Sunday.

“Docs and trainers and everybody will put their two cents in and we’ll see if we can go,” Vinatieri said. “If I can go, I’ll go.”

Obviously, he did not get good news, and that means the rookie McLaughlin is in to kick at Raymond James Stadium.

The Colts are looking to stay in the race for the AFC wild card spot, in a similar situation as the Bucs, so this Sunday (and really every Sunday from here on out) is a do or die for both teams.

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