Buccaneers RB Doug Martin – “I’m a stronger person now”

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TAMPA – Back on the football field and approximately three months removed from a self-imposed stint in a drug rehabilitation facility, Buccaneers running back Doug Martin says he’s a stronger person following his ordeal.

“It was a journey,’’ Martin said Thursday after the Bucs completed their first week of OTAs at One Buc Place. “I knew I had to go get help and it was a journey of self-development.

“It was hard to be away from my friends and family but I found strength in the people I was with. It was definitely worth it. I definitely turned a negative into a positive.’’

At the same time he was suspended during Week 17 for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing drugs, Martin admitted late last year to having a drug dependency issue.

Martin did not go into detail regarding the length of his stay in rehab or what he sought treatment for but he said he believes he’s a better person for having been through the ordeal.

“I was there long enough,’’ Martin said. “I was there to the point where I’m smiling now and am stronger mentally stronger physically. I’m a stronger person. Better on the field and off the field.

“I had a lot of support from my teammates. From (quarterback) Jameis (Winston) and (defensive tackle Gerald (McCoy). They did a good job of rallying behind me. Coach as well.’’

Martin’s comments came after a third straight workout in which he spent his time working almost exclusively with the first-team offense, a sign he may retain his starter’s job when he returns from his suspension.

Martin must still serve the final three games of the four-game suspension he earned for violating the league’s PED policy, but he said the issues that led to that and his absence earlier in the year are behind him.

“The hamstring feels great,’’ said Martin, who went down with a hamstring injury in Week 2 of last year and wound up missing seven games with the ailment. “I’m not worried about that.

“I’ve been keeping track of it and making sure I stretch it out and making sure that I’m hydrated and it feels good. It began to feel better a long time ago, when I was training in the off-season.’’

Martin returned to preparing for the start of the football season shortly after he got out of rehab and he said he feels good about where his career and more importantly, his life are headed now.

“Its behind me,’’ Martin said. “It’s definitely behind me. It was tough, but it was a decision had to make for myself as well as for me in the future.

“And now I’m just coming out here and doing what I do, which is just coming out here and practicing at my best and doing my best to help this team.’’

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