If there’s one position that seems to get eroded quickly, it’s the running back position and after carrying a heavy workload during his first two season in the NFL, Doug Martin needs to hope the Tampa Bay Buccaneers use him a bit more sparingly in the 2014 NFL season if he doesn’t want to have a very short career.
He played in only six games last season, but his carry per game average rose to 21.2 from 19.9 during his rookie year, in which he ran for 1454 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. Coming off missing 10 games last season, there’s a very good chance Lovie Smith will chose to be a bit more careful with Martin, a first round pick in 2012 out of Boise State.
Smith doesn’t plan to use Martin to the extent Greg Schiano did. Martin will see fewer touches under Smith, so the Bucs must decide on a backup, but that doesn’t figure to be an easy task.
The Bucs have a few running backs who can help Martin have an easier time next season, although none of them seem to be in line for a substantial increase in their carries: Mike James, Bobby Rainey, Jeff Demps and rookie Charles Sims, the 69th overall selection out of West Virginia in the 2014 draft.
Martin is the feature back and will be throughout this season. There isn’t a shred of a doubt about that. However, unlike during the two Schiano seasons, he’ll get fewer carries with more room to breathe between snaps, as the committee behind him will try and make themselves useful in the few chances they’ll get.