FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Bucs RB Doug Martin's night got off to a bad start and got only worse. But he did escape a major injury.
A missed block by Martin contributed to QB Josh Freeman taking a sack on the Bucs' first offensive play in Friday's 25-21 preseason loss to the Patriots. Later, Martin, in pass protection again, went low on Patriots DE Chandler Jones, and one of Jones' knees struck the top of Martin's helmet.
Martin was wobbly but went to the locker room under his own power. He said he passed concussion tests and could have returned to the game.
"It was just a tough play," Martin said. "Things happen."
If Martin had suffered a concussion, he would have been out indefinitely.
Treatment of concussions is highly regulated by the NFL. Depending on the results of required tests, players can be sidelined in subsequent weeks and can be barred from participating in practices until they have satisfactory test results.
More injuries: WR Tiquan Underwood sustained a knee injury, S Keith Tandy a shoulder injury and CB Anthony Gaitor a hip injury. Their statuses were not disclosed.
Good returns: The Bucs' starting offense did not score and had trouble moving the ball. And the starting defense allowed Tom Brady to go 8 of 8 passing on the game's opening series in giving up a touchdown. But there was a bright spot: kickoff returns.
Michael Smith's 63-yarder, during which he slipped through two tackles, gave the Bucs the ball at the Patriots' 42-yard line. The offense couldn't capitalize, with the Freeman-led unit going three-and-out with a net gain of zero yards.
Eric Page returned one kick 40 yards during the second quarter, bringing the ball out from 5 yards deep in the end zone. The Bucs ultimately drove 65 yards, capping the possession with a touchdown catch by Kevin Ogletree.
No Nicks: The Bucs had intended to get G Carl Nicks, who missed nine games last season with a toe injury that is permanently affecting him, his first action of the preseason. But the team opted to sit him after what it deemed a productive week of practice.
Long night: DE Da'Quan Bowers still isn't what you would consider a full-time player, not when he is being shuttled in and out of the lineup and playing well past the time starters have been removed from preseason games.
Coach Greg Schiano has been riding Bowers in an attempt to get him to play at a higher level. The team also is trying to get Bowers into better cardiovascular shape. The third-year end admits he still is getting winded.
Remember me? Former Bucs RB LeGarrette Blount continued his bid to make the New England roster with three carries for 10 yards during the first half. Blount said this week he didn't know where he stood in terms of making the roster.
Tebow! Tebow! One of the night's loudest cheers came when Patriots QB and former Gator Tim Tebow entered during the third quarter. He played after Brady and Ryan Mallett, and went 1 of 7 passing for minus-1 yard and ran six times for 30 yards.