TAMPA — After the Bucs pulled off a road win at Carolina last week, the hope was that the ensuing bye would help them get some key players back after extended injury absences.
That's decidedly not the case for Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin.
Not only was Martin held out of practice Wednesday with the hamstring injury that has kept him out since Week 2, but coach Dirk Koetter said he suffered a setback last week, leaving him sidelined indefinitely.
"Doug unfortunately did suffer a setback a week ago Sunday," Koetter said after the Bucs' first full practice of the week. "We'll just have to see when he can make it back. There's no timetable on that right now."
That means the Bucs will travel to face the 49ers on Sunday with backup Jacquizz Rodgers, who stepped up with 101 yards on 30 carries in the Carolina win, again thrust into a starting role. The Bucs did have defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (calf) back practicing in limited participation, but defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (hamstring) and DE Robert Ayers (ankle) did not return to practice as once hoped.
"Injuries are the worst part of this game, on all teams," Koetter said. "Just look around the league. A lot of teams have injuries, and we don't like it, but trust me, no one feels worse about it than the player. … Injuries make it tough on our team, but we can't feel sorry for ourselves. We've got to keep rolling."
Martin, 27, signed to a five-year, $35.75 million extension in the offseason, hasn't played or practiced since Week 2, and his top backup, Charles Sims, is on injured reserve with a knee injury suffered two weeks later, pressing Rodgers into a starting role. It's the third time in four seasons Martin has missed significant time with an injury; he missed 10 games in 2013 with a shoulder injury and five in 2014 with ankle and knee injuries.
The Bucs on Monday added veteran Antone Smith, who hasn't played this season but played for Koetter in Atlanta from 2012-14, as a more experienced backup.
"I'm already comfortable," Smith said Wednesday of getting caught up. "I'm familiar with everything. All the verbiage and everything hasn't changed. That's one offense I really haven't forgot. It was so simple and pretty much told you where to go. I just have to put what I know on the field and perform."
The Bucs, who also have undrafted rookie Peyton Barber on the roster, will be without their top two backs against a 49ers defense that gave up 312 rushing yards Sunday in a 45-16 loss to Buffalo, the most rushing yards San Francisco has allowed in a game since 1958.
Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.