Koetter: Only concern is for Doug Martin's future
Speaking for the first time since news that running back Doug Martin will be serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing substances policy, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said Thursday that his only concern is for Martin's health moving forward.
"I don't think any of us can understand what he's going through, unless you've been in his shoes," Koetter said. "So I don't pretend to be able to understand what he's been going through. The only thing I really want to say about the Doug Martin situation is that I think it's a positive thing that he's taken steps to put himself in position to have better health and have a better life, longterm. That really has nothing to do with the football side of it, but I think it's a really important step."
Koetter declined to go into any detail about the timeline of the past week -- when he learned of Martin's suspension, when Martin changed his mind about wanting to appeal the suspension, why Martin was benched and inactive Saturday but didn't start his suspension last week -- and said "I'll leave that to your imagination," letting statements issued Wednesday by Martin and Bucs general manager Jason Licht stand as the only commentary on the matter.
"The important thing in my mind here is you've got a young man's healthy, and I think it's important that he's taken steps to fix that, longterm," Koetter said.
Martin said in his statement that he was not appealing his suspension so that he can enter a treatment facility to "receive the help I truly need." The statement did not specify what triggered the positive test that resulted in the suspension, but an NFL Network report named Adderall, which is treated as a performance-enhancing substance during the season as it can help players with their focus.
The Bucs will play their season finale Sunday without Martin or backup Charles Sims, who went on injured reserve Wednesday with a pectoral injury. They'll rely on Jacquizz Rodgers, who is the Bucs' leading rusher ahead of Martin, as well as rookies Peyton Barber and Russell Hansbrough. Tampa Bay has been all but mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, losing their last two games after getting to 8-5 with a five-game winning streak.
Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander, who missed the final four games of last season with a suspension after he said he took a "sports drink" that contained a banned substance, said he and his teammates have nothing but support for Martin as he works to get things straight off the field.
"I'm praying for him. The whole team's praying for him," Alexander said. "We're behind him, 100 percent."