Bucs Doug Martin, Gerald McCoy named to Pro Bowl
Doug Martin made a triumphant comeback this season from injuries to regain his rookie form and is closing fast on the NFL rushing title. Gerald McCoy revealed he has played through a torn right rotator cuff and broken left hand to lead his team in sacks.
Because of their performance and perseverance, Martin and McCoy were named to the Pro Bowl announced by the NFL Tuesday night.
McCoy became only the seventh Bucs players to be earn a spot on at least four consecutive Pro Bowls, joining a star-studded list that includes Lee Roy Selmon, Derrick Brooks, Mike Alstott, Hardy Nickerson, Warren Sapp and John Lynch.
Martin called McCoy, who missed only one game this season and leads the team with 7.5 sacks, the “epitome of toughness.”
“He's been injured and anybody could've stopped playing but he didn't because we needed him,” Martin said.
McCoy said he had not given details about his injuries because he didn’t want them to be used as an excuse. He tore his rotator cuff in Week 2 against the Saints and missed one game after breaking his hand at Indianapolis, an injury that required a plate and screws be inserted in his hand to repair a fracture.
"I was quoted as saying this has been my toughest year mentally,” McCoy said. “I've been playing all year with a torn rotator cuff. I'm not a guy to make excuses. When people say, ‘I’m not doing this and I'm not doing that,' I never attacked anyone. I just said I need to be better. I love this team and I love this game and anything it takes to be out there, I’m going to do it. That's just me.”
When it comes to redemption, few players can compete this season with Martin. In addition to doubts about his ability to remain healthy after two injury-filled years, the Bucs decided not to pick up Martin’s fifth-year option of $5.6-million, meaning he will become a free agent at the end of the season.
Nothing motivates pro athletes like a contract year and Martin reported to the off-season workouts in the best condition of his career, having dropped about 8-10 pounds. Coaches immediately saw his quickness return and he seemed to be running with a bursting heart.
Martin’s performance was reminiscent of his rookie year, when the first-round pick from Boise St. earned his first appearance in the Pro Bowl after rushing for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also caught 49 passes for 472 yards and a TD.
But in 2013, Martin’s season was cut short when he suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 6. At the time of his injury, Martin’s 456 rushing yards were fourth in the NFL.
Martin never regained his form the next season. He appeared in only 11 games in 2014 due to and rushed for 494 yards on 135 carries (3.7 avg.) to go along with 13 receptions for 64 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Pro Football Focus rated Martin as the No. 45 running back out of 57 qualifying players last year.
“I told you guys earlier in the year, in the off-season, I told you was Doug was a different guy when he showed back up to off-season workouts,” McCoy said. “I could tell by how he looked and how he was approaching every day. He was going to be the Doug we know he is. I called it in the off-season. He’s just been dominant all year and I’m real happy for him.”
Martin credits his close relationship with his offensive line for his success. He bought them all hover boards following his 235-yard rushing performance in a win at Philadelphia. They can expect more gifts if Martin is able to become the first player in club history to win a rushing title.
“I appreciate them very much,” Martin said of his offensive line. “I thank them from the bottom of my heart. It’s the best offensive line that has helped blossom me. I say that because of the relationship I have with them and their fight, their willingness to sacrifice their bodies to get a few yards. I appreciate those guys very much.”
“I hope I can get (the rushing title) for them. It would be a great accomplishment.”
Then McCoy added, “Quote Gerald saying he will get it.”