It seems like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers dodged a bullet on Thursday when starting Running Back Doug Martin was involved in a car accident, but apparently left the incident more or less unaffected. That is great news for the team and the fans, since Martin is the clear No. 1 on the depth chart at Running Back, and, according to Jason Licht, he seems to be looking VERY good in practice as of late. So we are all hoping for Martin to return to the form he had in his contract year two years ago, where he ran for more than 1400 Yards and six Touchdowns on the ground.
However, Martin is suspended for the first three games or the regular season. In addition to that, he is not getting any younger and has had to deal with injuries over and over again throughout his career. So the question is, who will run the ball in Weeks 1-3 and in the worst-case scenario where Martin might not be able to carry the load for the whole season anymore (due to injury or age)?
For one thing, re-signing Jaquizz Rodgers for a 2-year deal worth $3.3 million was a very important and more than reasonable offseason move. Rodgers did a great job last year filling in for the injured Martin and, as of now, will most likely get the nod in the first three games. Other than that there’s Charles Sims, who has been decent on 3rd downs, Peyton Barber and newly acquired Jeremy McNichols. At first sight, McNichols may look like a Martin clone, since they both have the same height and weigh about the same as well and both were drafted out of Boise state. However, McNichols’ skill set is different from Martin’s.
At Boise State, he was used as a receiver out of the backfield a lot. In his last two seasons there, he had almost 1000 Receiving Yards, that is just below the Carolina Panthers’ high first round pick Christian McCaffrey, who thrives on being a receiver out of the backfield. Whether McNichols is ready to be an every-down back in the NFL remains to be seen, however.