He’s coming off a disappointing season and he will miss the first three games of the season serving a suspension. But Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin is hardly relinquishing his feature role.
Martin is listed at No. 1 on the Buccaneers’ depth chart, and the former Boise State great has earned strong reviews from teammates and the team’s decision-making brass.
“We’re playing these games for Doug,” quarterback Jameis Winston said last week. “Doug is out there and he's not taking any reps off. He’s out there going hard like he’s going to be starting Week 1. That’s exciting.”
In Tampa Bay’s preseason opener, Martin rushed four times for 11 yards. He played in only eight games last season, rushing for a career-low 421 yards with just 2.9 yards per carry.
During the offseason, Martin was focused, and dropped from 8 percent bodyfat to 6 (don’t we all wish we had that ability). General manager Jason Licht said in May that “Doug has looked as good as I’ve seen him.” Licht said that other backs might fill the void in Martin’s absence, saying his start “might not” be granted.
The preseason provides solid chances for Martin to prevent rust, since he won’t be allowed to practice once the regular season starts, until Week 4. Martin went to rehab after the suspension was announced, and said he enters the season feeling right.
“I definitely turned a negative into a positive and I’m out here and I’m definitely a stronger person because of it,” Martin said.
Next preseason game: at Jaguars, 6 p.m. Thursday (ESPN)
JEREMY MCNICHOLS, RB, BUCCANEERS
McNichols was a fifth-round pick after racking up 1,709 rushing yards, 474 receiving yards and 27 total touchdowns last season as a junior. He’s quickly impressed as a pass-catcher, but was shown on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” on the show’s premiere episode last week struggling a bit grasping offensive concepts.
“I would agree with (running backs coach Tim Spencer). He needs to get in his playbook,” coach Dirk Koetter said last Wednesday, the day after the episode aired.
In the team’s preseason opener, McNichols had two carries for 12 yards. He spoke to ESPN early in camp and noted his challenge was to understand the offense, especially after sitting out offseason work recovering from shoulder surgery.
“I’m more of a visual learner,” McNichols said. “If I take the reps, if I watch the film, that's how I learn. Being able to run the plays and learn in the classroom, it’s easier to learn that way.”
McNichols appeared briefly in the second “Hard Knocks” episode with former Boise State cornerback Jonathan Moxey and first-round pick O.J. Howard, saying he had never even been to an NFL game before, adding “even now it doesn’t seem real that we’re in the NFL. It’s a childhood dream.”
JONATHAN MOXEY, CB, BUCCANEERS
One of two undrafted Broncos signed by Tampa Bay after the draft (since-waived receiver Thomas Sperbeck was the other), Moxey started 37 games his last three seasons at Boise State, intercepting three passes.
The Buccaneers have battled injuries at cornerback in training camp, allowing Moxey to work with the second-team defense Tuesday. He also had an interception in Monday’s practice. Moxey is currently listed as a fourth-team cornerback on the team’s depth chart.
“So far, Moxey has made a couple plays,” coach Dirk Koetter said Tuesday. “He had an interception yesterday (and) made a nice play on special teams in the game the other day.”
TRAVIS AVERILL, OL, FALCONS
He started 41 games for the Broncos, seeing time at guard and tackle, but went undrafted in April. He signed with the Falcons and is currently listed as a third-team left guard. Averill will hope to add some depth to one of the NFL’s best offensive lines last season. A Bleacher Report article on each team’s top undrafted free agents picked him as Atlanta’s best.
“The lineman they could hit a bull’s-eye with is guard Travis Averill,” it said.
Next preseason game: at Steelers, 2 p.m. Sunday (NFL Network)
This is the third in our look at Boise State football players in NFL training camps. Our others are below.
NFC East: Kellen Moore, Tyrone Crawford, DeMarcus Lawrence, Orlando Scandrick, Donte Deayon, Darian Thompson
NFC North: Charles Leno, Sam McCaskill