Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bucs get lift from Doug Martin's return to the huddle

TAMPA — The long-awaited return of Doug Martin came Sunday as the running back played for the first time in eight weeks, getting his first touchdown of the season in the Bucs' 36-10 win over the Bears.

After he scored, Martin kissed the grass in the end zone.

"Just happy to be back," said Martin, who had 33 yards on 16 carries. "It was frustrating, but I was back and ready to go."

Martin's role and productivity should expand as he gets back to full strength, and QB Jameis Winston said it was "amazing" to have his presence in the huddle; coach Dirk Koetter agreed: "It was awesome to get Doug out there."

PATCHWORK LINE: The Bucs went into the game without two offensive line starters as C Joe Hawley (knee) and LG Kevin Pamphile (concussion) were inactive. That meant rookie Caleb Benenoch started at left guard to make his NFL debut. Then Evan Smith, filling in at center, was lost to a knee injury in the first quarter.

That mean that Ben Gottschalk, promoted from the practice squad Saturday, was the only center left on roster, and he played the rest of the game.

"I felt prepared going in. I wasn't that nervous," Gottschalk said. "It's been a long time coming, taken a lot of work to get to this point. It just feels really good, gratifying, absolutely."

FULLBACK MCCOY: Koetter relented and let DT Gerald McCoy make a three-play cameo on offense, helping block for Martin's 1-yard touchdown.

The sequence came after a pass interference penalty in the end zone, setting up first and goal at the 1 with 7:26 left and the Bucs up 29-10. Martin was dropped for a 3-yard loss, got back to the 1 on second down, then went in for his first touchdown of the season, with a little help from McCoy.

"First play, I wasn't very victorious … third play we scored and I made a block on it," McCoy said. "First one, I think I hit the biggest dude they've got on the team. I'm a big guy, but he's about 360. When I hit him, 'Oooohh. Is this what fullbacks deal with?' But I lived out a dream, playing on offense, and we won."

THANKS MUCH: TE Cameron Brate scored his fifth touchdown of the season Sunday and finished with team highs of seven catches for 84 yards. He said he appreciates fans who have believed in him in fantasy football.

"My phone, I had a lot of messages from people telling me they picked me up in fantasy football earlier in the week," Brate said. "I'm happy I came through for them. I'm trying to get my ownership up a little bit there. I told my friends they've got to give me some kickbacks if they win now."

Contact Greg Auman at and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

Bucs get lift from Doug Martin's return to the huddle 11/13/16 [Last modified: Sunday, November 13, 2016 10:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays vs. Blue Jays, 7:10 p.m. Tuesday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Blue Jays

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

  2. Baseball team's eclipse watch during game draws fans from far away


    KEIZER, Ore. — They came from Hawaii, Rhode Island and Alaska, and as far as the Dominican Republic and Australia.

    Players for the minor-league baseball Salem-Keizer Volcanoes wear special eclipse jerseys Monday.
  3. Florida State sees plenty of upside in Dade City native Jacob Pugh


    TALLAHASSEE — No, Florida State senior Jacob Pugh is not as versatile as teammate Derwin James.

     Florida State Seminoles linebacker Jacob Pugh (16) and Florida State Seminoles defensive end DeMarcus Walker (44) celebrate after sacking the Miami quarterback Saturday October 8, 2016 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.
  4. 247Sports: Berkeley Prep's Nicholas Petit-Frere top OT in nation


    Berkeley Prep offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere already is widely considered the best player in Tampa Bay.

    Berkeley Prep rising senior defensive end Nicholas Petit-Frere (78) performs a pad drill during spring football practice at Berkeley Prep in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, May 12, 2017.
  5. Full disclosure: My AP Top 25 ballot


    Now that you've seen the preseason AP Top 25, here's what I submitted in my first year as a voter. The AP doesn't give us many guidelines in the preseason. I didn't try to predict how …