Bucs rookie RB Doug Martin off to a fast start in battle with LeGarrette Blount
No one is making any public declarations about the Bucs' running back situation, and the team won't release a depth chart for at least another week.
But it doesn't take an expert to see that rookie running back Doug Martin looks -- at least for now -- like the Bucs' primary running back.
How do we know this? Well, the mere fact that he is taking a large majority of the first-team reps in practice is a pretty reliable tip. And when the Bucs conducted a pass-protection period in this morning's practice, Martin got the bigger share of the reps. That's an area Blount has, in the past, had some real struggles.
And here's something else about Martin, the first-round pick from Boise State: He is showcasing his quick burst at the line of scrimmage, showing his ability to decisively hit holes, then use his speed to make defenders miss in the second level. That speed and quickness gives the Bucs the option to use more tosses and perimeter runs, things they haven't been able to utilize much with Blount who lacks comparable speed.
None of this means Blount has officially become the No. 2 running back. Nor does it mean he won't have an important role for this offense. And another point made by coach Greg Schiano today can't be overlooked: The Bucs haven't played a live game yet, despite practicing in pads for the first time this morning. Even in pads, running backs aren't technically tackled, for the most part, to avoid injury.
"You look at them in protection and carrying the ball, but until they have to break a tackle, make someone miss in a game when they’re getting tackled live, it’s awfully hard to evaluate," Schiano said.
Even so, Martin is off to a fast start. It's only taken three days of practice to make this pretty clear.