The National Football League can be a cold, heartless business at times and players can suffer the reality of that statement first hand far too often.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are taking a “business” approach when it comes to the handling of running back Doug Martin.
Martin is scheduled to miss the 1st 3 games of the upcoming NFL season to serve the remainder of his drug suspension but his job as the starting running back for the Bucs may not be there when Martin returns.
“It might not,” Bucs’ General Manager Jason Licht said to ESPN.
“Look, he has done everything we’ve asked him to do, and he looks reminiscent of 2015 when he was playing for his contract. He looks the same out there, mentally and physically. So he might be one of those guys that needs a carrot. And he’s got a pretty big carrot in front of him right now, because there’s no guarantees that he’s going to be here. And he knows that. We’ve talked to him, and he’s good with it. He goes, ‘I understand.’”
The Bucs are confident that Jacquizz Ridgers can fill in adequately for Martin and they are also confident in Charles Sims as a 3rd-down back. Tampa Bay also likes what they have seen from Peyton Barber as a power-runner and 5th round draft pick Jeremy McNichols.
Martin could very well find himself as the odd many out should Tampa Bay’s backups thrive during his absence.
“So we like the committee that we have for the first three games, and we’ll see what happens,” Licht said. “You never know. Somebody can kind of jump out of there.”
Martin understands the nature of the business.
“Yeah, that’s the reality of the situation,” Martin said to ESPN.
“That’s what they told me. I can only control everything that I can control right now — just show up to camp, play hard and show them that I can continue to be that starting back. And when the time comes when I come back, we’ll see what happens. So it’s still in the air. It’s still in the air. I’m hopeful, and we’ll see what happens. I just show them what I’m capable of doing, and that’s 2012 Doug, that’s 2015 Doug. And if I do that, everything else will fall into place. So we’ll see.”
Martin, much like the team, is also confident in the rotation of running backs that the team currently has at their disposal.
“We have a lot of great backs,” Martin said.
“We have a plethora of backs in the room right now, and I think we’ll be very capable of running the rock while I’m absent. Everybody has their own little thing. Chuck can shake a guy in a phone booth, Quizz is smooth, Peyton’s like the hard runner. There’s a lot of guys with different talents in there, and I can’t wait to see what they can do.”