Lovie Hints At The Future Of The Backfield

Lovie Smith does not commit to Doug Martin as he emphasizes the competition at running back.

It’s apparent that after the Bucs did not pick up the option in running back Doug Martin’s contract his time with Tampa Bay has all but expired. Sprinkle in a couple injury-filled seasons and you have an unfortunate and disappointing tenure with the Bucs.

Now of course this is looking ahead and a return is still possible (but highly unlikely). After all, Martin did make it to the Pro Bowl his rookie season after running for over 1,400 yards and scoring 11 touchdowns on the ground.

But Martin has not been the same since and Tampa Bay acknowledges that. Their backfield is crowded and head coach Lovie Smith sounds like a man who is ready to hand over the everyday running back duties to someone else on the roster.

“We don’t decide much running around in shorts, but Doug has been what we thought he would be,” Smith said following Wednesday’s mini-camp practice. “But there will be good competition. Charles Sims, Bobby Rainey, Mike James – all those guys feel like if we need them to be the bell cow, they can do it. And we think they can.”

Rainey has had moments of excellence but has quickly coupled it with disappointing performances. James may have not been given many opportunities last season and Sims is entering his second year after being drafted and playing just eight games in 2014. So there is lots of uncertainty surrounding the Buccaneers running back situation.

All signs indicate the team is set to move forward without Martin. While they may be content with giving him the bulk of the carries this season, one has to wonder when they will hand the ball off to the next “featured” back..

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