Buccaneers’ RB Doug Martin must be healthy on and off field before NFL return

Photo via Getty Images

By now, Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans are well familiar with running back Doug Martin’s difficult journey back to the team. He’s had a rough time since his start in 2012, despite being an outstanding running back.

In both 2012 and 2015, Martin ran for over 1,400 yards. However, in 2013, 2014, and 2016 he ran for under 500 yards.

The difference is stark: when he’s healthy, Martin tears up the field.

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Image result for doug martin running
When healthy, Martin is an outstanding running back and an invaluable asset to the Bucs. Photo via Jamie Squire / Getty Images

Most of last season, Martin was sidelined with a hamstring injury, and he only accumulated 421 yards. This didn’t look great for a running back closing in on his thirties, but he more recently dealt with another setback.

At the end of the 2016 season, Martin was suspended for four games because of drug use. Many speculated that Martin would lose his spot on the team.

Martin then checked himself into rehab, and recently broke his silence and made a statement about his rehab for the first time. 

“It was a journey these past few months,’’ he said. “You know, with the statement and I had to get help. It was a journey of self-development. I learned a lot about myself. I’ve had the support of my family, my friends and teammates all around and I’m happy to be back here.’’

Martin claims that his drug use is completely behind him. Assuming it is, he still has a lot of ground to cover if he hopes to retain his starting position for Tampa Bay.

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Martin, now 28, is coming close to the age where running backs seem to drop off in performance. Most running backs lose steam around the 30-mark, and unless Martin proves himself as absolutely indispensable, his days in Tampa Bay might be close to being over.

In order to stay relevant, Martin must prove to the Bucs leadership that he’s an asset that will pay off. With the Bucs on the brink of what could be a playoff season, every player has to carry his load and be at their bests.

As long has he stays healthy, Martin will prove once again he’s one of the best running backs in the NFL.

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