Doug Martin regained his top form in 2015, running for 1,402 yards and scoring seven touchdowns for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His 2016 campaign was derailed after just 25 attempts, when a hamstring injury suffered during a Sept. 18 loss to Arizona kept him inactive for seven weeks.
Martin (No. 22, Boise State) returned Sunday against the Chicago Bears, and though the statistics were pedestrian by his standards (16 carries for 33 yards and one catch for 13 yards), he found the end zone for the first time since December — also against the Bears. See the touchdown on the Buccaneers’ team site.
The fifth-year pro has been effective over the course of his career — as long as he’s been healthy. He has run for at least 1,400 yards in both seasons in which he played all 16 games, including a career-high 1,454 in his rookie season. But he has missed 21-of-73 possible games, and he’ll play a maximum of 10 this year.
The Bucs visit the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 11.
BSU-IDAHO TURF WAR
Jay Ajayi (No. 23, Boise State) had a three-game streak of 100-plus-yard games that pushed him to sixth in the NFL in rushing, despite missing the season opener. The Miami Dolphins haven’t lost since the “Jay Train” became a more prominent part of the offense, and that streak continued Sunday with a 31-24 victory at San Diego.
Ajayi’s triple-digit streak was snapped; he finished with 79 yards on 19 carries, plus one catch for 1 yard. One of the Chargers charged with stopping him was inside linebacker Korey Toomer (No. 56, Idaho), who again led the team in tackles.
The players never met in college, but they squared off plenty Sunday. Toomer broke up a pass and made 11 tackles (10 solo), giving him 20 in November and 38 in seven games this year.
Fourteen players from Idaho colleges saw action in Sunday’s games. The rest of the list:
▪ Dallas DE DeMarcus Lawrence (No. 90, Boise State) had four tackles (two for loss), a sack and a forced fumble at Pittsburgh. Cowboys CB Orlando Scandrick (No. 32, Boise State) made five stops.
▪ New England LB Shea McClellin (No. 58, Marsing High/Boise State) blocked an extra-point attempt against Seattle. He also had a tackle and a quarterback hit.
▪ Denver DE Billy Winn (No. 97, Boise State) started and made a tackle at New Orleans.
▪ Offensive line starters: Arizona LG Mike Iupati (No. 76, Idaho), Chicago LT Charles Leno Jr. (No. 72, Boise State), Denver C Matt Paradis (No. 61, Council High/Boise State), Tampa Bay C Evan Smith (No. 62, Idaho State).
▪ Also played: Dallas DE Tyrone Crawford (No. 98, Boise State), New Orleans TE Josh Hill (No. 89, Blackfoot High/Idaho State), New Orleans DB Shiloh Keo (No. 49, Idaho).
The Grey Cup playoffs started Sunday in Canada, and one of the division semifinals began with a former Boise State player starting in each secondary.
Edmonton finished fourth in the West Division this season, but due to the league’s “crossover” rule, the Eskimos qualified for the postseason as the No. 3 seed in the East Division bracket. They proceeded to defeat the No. 2 seed Hamilton Tiger-Cats 24-21 in Hamilton, Ontario, to move one game away from creating the league’s first all-West Grey Cup under the current format.
Cleshawn Page (No. 92) played sparingly for Hamilton in 2015, but he was cut in June. The Ticats added the second-year pro to the practice squad in October and activated him Friday, and by Sunday he was starting at cornerback. Page made two tackles in his first — and last — CFL game of the season. Nose tackle Michael Atkinson (No. 99, Boise State) missed his second straight game.
Brandyn Thompson (No. 24) had one tackle and one pass breakup for the Eskimos (11-8), who return to Ontario to visit East champion Ottawa (8-9-1) next week. The Redblacks have two former Broncos on their active roster — defensive back Jerrell Gavins (No. 24) and starting center Jon Gott (No. 63).
In the West Division semifinal, longtime fullback and special teams ace Rolly Lumbala (No. 46, Idaho) played for the B.C. Lions in a 32-31 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Vancouver, British Columbia. The 10th-year pro, who has played all 19 games for the Lions (13-6) this season, will travel to Calgary for a division final matchup against the Stampeders (15-2-1), the league’s top team in the regular season.