TAMPA – Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter said Friday that a decision on whether to play running back Doug Martin against the Bears probably would not be made until just before game time.
It’s possible, though, that the decision has already been made.
The Bucs on Saturday made a few roster moves in preparation for their game against the Bears and one of them strongly suggests Martin will be active for the first time since Week 2 against Arizona.
In addition to transferring offensive lineman Ben Gottschalk and defensive end Ryan Russell from the practice squad to the active roster, the Bucs on Saturday waived running back Russell Hansbrough.
It’s the latter move that suggests the Bucs will likely dress Martin, who has missed the last six games with a hamstring strain he first suffered against the Cardinals.
With Hansbrough off the roster the Bucs have only two healthy running backs (Peyton Barber and Mike James). That number would jump to three if Martin is good to go.
Gottschalk was promoted as a potential replacement for left guard Kevin Pamphile, who will miss his first game of the season Sunday because of a concussions sustained in the Bucs loss to Atlanta.
The Bucs also have to guard against the possible absence of center Joe Hawley, who is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game with a nagging knee injury.
If Hawley can’t the go the Bucs will likely start Evan Smith at center and either Caleb Benenoch or Gottschalk at left guard. They could also use Smith at left guard and insert Gottschalk at center.
Russell was promoted as a replacement for Howard Jones, who became the third defensive end, joining George Johnson and Jacquies Smith, to be placed on season-ending injured reserve when he was put there last Monday with a knee injury.