TAMPA – Just as they often do during training camp, the Buccaneers have invited their season-ticket holders out to One Buc Place this week for an exclusive look at their mandatory mini-camp workouts.
The invitation has afforded that select group of devoted fans a chance to witness first-hand what may become one of the most inspiring and successful comeback stories of the 2017 season.
Doug Martin, whose 2016 season was ruined by injuries before his reputation was ruined by news of his violation of the NFL’s PED policy and his admission to a drug-dependency issue, has been one of the camps stars.
Amid ongoing speculation suggesting he could still be cut, the two-time Pro Bowl running back continues to run with the first-team offense and continues to look about as good as a back can at this time of year.
“Well, it’s hard for a running back to not look good when you’re going in shorts and nobody’s playing blocks, nobody’s on the ground,’’ Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said. “But Doug, he’s definitely in fantastic shape.
“He does look quick. As we’ve said all along, the main thing with Doug is him being healthy and having his issues behind him. Running backs, linemen on both sides of the ball, their time to shine is coming in training camp.
“When we come back in training camp, we go two days in shorts, one day in shells and then we go like a bunch of days in a row … in pads. That’s when those guys will really show how they’re doing.’’
The bet here is that even after the pads go on, Martin will continue to show not just the same burst and agility he’s shown during offseason workouts but also the power that has always made him special.
Martin has always excelled at gaining yards after contact, getting more out of a run than his blockers provide, and there’s nothing about him that suggests that will change.
Indeed, if you knew nothing about the demons Martin has been fighting these past few months (or possibly years) you would never suspect he is attempting to come back from a potentially life-threatening situation.
Martin looks as quick and fast and strong as he ever has, literally like a player ready to break into his prime in a big way and Bucs, fans have legitimate reason to be excited about that.
Sure, he will miss the first three games of the season as he serves out the last three games of his suspension, and that is unfortunate. It could cost Martin a rushing title and the Bucs much more than that.
But as it looks now, there is little to suggest Martin won’t come back in Week 4 and not only step back in as the Bucs lead back but step back in as one of the league’s most productive backs.