TAMPA — Bucs coach Greg Schiano has said he believes rookie RB Doug Martin has a chance to be a special player.
The rest of the league is starting to notice.
Martin, coming off last week's breakout performance against the Vikings, was named the NFL's offensive rookie of the month on Thursday. His 155.7 yards from scrimmage per game led the league, 26.1 more than Vikings star RB Adrian Peterson, who was second.
"I'm really excited," said Martin, a first-round pick out of Boise State. "It's an honor."
Against Minnesota, Martin racked up 214 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown off a screen pass. He became the first rookie in the past 25 seasons to rush for at least 135 yards (135) with 75-plus receiving yards (79) in one game. The Oakland, Calif., native received congratulatory calls from family and friends but kept it in perspective.
"I was pretty mellow about it," Martin said. "My mom called me, like 'Wow!' I was like 'Yeah, all right.' She said, 'What's wrong with you?' I said, 'It's one game. We've got the rest of the season to go.' "
Martin credited the offensive line as well as FB Erik Lorig but acknowledged the season-ending toe injury to All-Pro LG Carl Nicks will be a tough loss.
Martin said he's looking forward to Sunday's game at the Raiders, having lived in Oakland for five years. He never went to any games as he didn't watch too much football until he played in high school but has heard stories about fans in the "Black Hole."
"It's a homecoming," he said.
"I've got about 60-plus people going to this game. It's going to be really exciting."
Wright update: CB Eric Wright, limited with an Achilles injury this week, will play against Oakland, defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan said. Wright, who is expected to start, was injured against the Vikings. There remained no update on his reported suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
Line shuffle: Schiano said he's still deciding on Nicks' replacement. He added one possibility is moving Jeremy Zuttah from center to left guard and recently benched right guard Ted Larsen to center.
"When you start moving people around, there's a lot of pluses and minuses to it," Schiano said. "But at the end of the day, our main goal is to get the best five guys out there on the field."
GOING WEST: In recent years under former coach Raheem Morris, the Bucs typically left for games on the west coast on Friday, giving them extra time to acclimate. Schiano considered that but decided to leave Saturday, keeping with the "normal routine" for road games.
FREEING UP: The team loves the fact QB Josh Freeman has thrown for 1,010 yards in his past three games. But what makes coaches equally excited is his nine touchdowns and one interception.
Freeman, who threw 22 interceptions last season, cited his growth in the new offense.
"It's just continuing to work within the offense," he said. "Sometimes, a ball gets away from you or something. But the more comfortable you are with the offense, the less prone you are to making those errant throws or trying to fit a ball into a (small) window when you have another guy open."
The gradual improvement is evidenced by the numbers. Freeman had four interceptions through four games but has just one in the past three and none in the past two.
Times staff writer Stephen F. Holder contributed to this report.