Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Doug Martin to be inactive for Bucs' season finale

TAMPA — Two days after being benched for the first time in his pro career, Doug Martin's season appears to be over and his future with the Bucs is in doubt.

Martin, the two-time Pro Bowl running back who was told to take a seat for the Bucs' 31-24 loss to the Saints on Saturday, will not be active for Sunday's regular-season finale against the Panthers.

In fact, the Bucs plan to sign running back Russell Hansbrough from the Giants' practice squad today, a move that appears related to Martin.

On Monday, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said he stood by his decision to make Martin inactive for Saturday's game at New Orleans and start Jacquizz Rodgers in his place.

Both Martin and the Bucs have insisted he is healthy and that it was a "coach's decision" to make him inactive. Since returning from a hamstring injury, Martin has struggled to regain the form that made him the NFL's second-leading rusher a year ago.

Martin had rushed 119 times for 336 yards (2.8 per carry) and three touchdowns over the previous six games, and though the Bucs went 5-1 during that stretch, their running game disappeared. The decision to start Rodgers was surprising only because two weeks earlier, Koetter gave an impassioned defense of Martin.

"I'll stand by the defense. He is running hard and we do need to give him more lanes," Koetter said Monday. "But again, I made the decision that I thought Quizz would give us a better opportunity last week and Quizz did a good job when he was in there. People can say whatever they want about how Doug would've been, we don't know because he wasn't in there. I'm not trying to confuse anybody. That's not my intent. I'm trying to put the Bucs in the best position to win games."

Monday, Koetter declined to say whether Martin would be inactive again this week. But that was before the Bucs arranged for Hansbrough to travel to Tampa.

An undrafted free agent from Missouri, Hansbrough has had three stints on the Bucs' roster this season and been released by the club five times.

"Right now I'm not going to say anything about who's going to play this week because I don't want to do Carolina any favors as to who we're going to play," Koetter said. "Last week, we made a decision for the Saints game based on what I thought was best for our team that week. We'll do the same thing this week. There's other decisions like that made every week, just this one was a little higher profile."

Rodgers started in place of Martin on Saturday and rushed for 63 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.

Martin signed a five-year, $35.75 million contract last March, including $15 million guaranteed.

Koetter said the problem is that the Bucs have a hard time making four running backs active in any game because of special teams. Rodgers, Charles Sims and rookie Peyton Barber all play on special teams or are backups on that unit. Martin is among a handful of non-quarterbacks who do not play any special teams.

"It's hard to get more than one feature back the main carries," Koetter said.

Koetter said the Bucs could use both Martin and Rodgers in the same offense, but making that adjustment in Week 17 would be difficult.

"If we were starting from scratch and we knew what we had, could we do that? Yeah, we could," he said. "We could do anything, but that's not what we're doing."

But the decision to sign Hansbrough off the Giants' practice squad indicates Martin will at least be inactive again this week. It's unclear whether the team plans to release him or place him on some reserve list.

This much appears clear: Martin won't carry the football for the Bucs again this season. You have to wonder if he ever will again.

"I'm not sure if it should cause it (speculation about Martin's future) or not," Koetter said. "I don't really have any good answer for you. That decision was made and I'll stand by it. And at some point, it will be apparent what our decision will be this week and I'll stand by that the same way."

Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report.

Comments

Ryan Fitzpatrick played better than you may think

TAMPA — The announcement of which Bucs quarterback will start at Chicago Sunday will have to wait.Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick met with Dirk Koetter Tuesday and were given the news."So we know what we're going to do,'' Koetter said. "Bot...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Bucs’ Gerald McCoy heard apologizing to Ben Roethlisberger mid-hit

Bucs’ Gerald McCoy heard apologizing to Ben Roethlisberger mid-hit

For all of his accomplishments on the field, Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has been dogged by unfair criticism throughout his career that he's too nice.One moment during Monday's 30-27 loss to the Steelers isn't going to help him in th...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Dirk Koetter on Bucs QB situation: “We know what we’re going to do.”

Dirk Koetter on Bucs QB situation: “We know what we’re going to do.”

TAMPA — Dirk Koetter knows. He met with Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick Tuesday and now they know. But he doesn't want the Chicago Bears to know which will quarterback the Bucs Sunday at Soldier Field.So the waiting game continues."So I kno...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Buccaneers AfterMath: Tampa Bay’s defense is raising red flags

Buccaneers AfterMath: Tampa Bay’s defense is raising red flags

You might have walked away from the game Monday night feeling pretty good about your Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Sure, the first half was about as ugly as it gets. After the Steelers returned Ryan Fitzpatrick’s third interception for a touchdown late...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Eduardo A. Encina joins the Times to cover the Bucs

Eduardo A. Encina joins the Times to cover the Bucs

ST. PETERSBURG — Eduardo A. Encina, an award-winning sportswriter with an extensive background covering Tampa Bay sports, is returning to the Times to cover the Bucs.Encina will join Rick Stroud, Thomas Bassinger and columnists Tom Jones and Ma...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Did Ryan Fitzpatrick do enough to keep his job?

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Did Ryan Fitzpatrick do enough to keep his job?

Rick Stroud and Times sports columnist Tom Jones break down the Bucs' 30-27 loss to the Steelers on Monday Night Football.Ryan Fitzpatrick  had a difficult first half, throwing three interceptions, but  led a second-half comeback that ...
Published: 09/25/18
The magic has worn off. Time for the Bucs to start Jameis Winston

The magic has worn off. Time for the Bucs to start Jameis Winston

TAMPA — So this will be a fun and interesting week over at One Buc Place.Who's the quarterback?That question will be asked a few times. The likely answer will end up being Ryan Fitzpatrick.But this question will be asked a few dozen times:...
Published: 09/25/18
Winston or Fitzpatrick? Reading between the lines in the Bucs locker room

Winston or Fitzpatrick? Reading between the lines in the Bucs locker room

TAMPA — At some point Tuesday morning, Jameis Winston will walk into the office of head coach Dirk Koetter and get the news.There will likely be hugs and handshakes, but within the first few minutes, Koetter will tell Winston what his role will...
Published: 09/25/18
Why the Bucs kept going to Chris Godwin

Why the Bucs kept going to Chris Godwin

TAMPA  — Chris Godwin's first three quarters Monday night weren't as rough as Ryan Fitzpatrick's, but they were close.Through 45 minutes of Tampa Bay's 30-27 loss to Pittsburgh, Godwin dropped two touchdown passes, had another TD reception...
Published: 09/25/18
Bucs-Steelers report card: There is still work to be done

Bucs-Steelers report card: There is still work to be done

TAMPA — They couldn't stick the landing. The FitzMagic ran out.Monday night against the Steelers, Tony Dungy night, was supposed to be the coming-out party, a new beginning, the Bucs on national TV, showing America that 2-0 was not make believe...
Published: 09/25/18