TAMPA — Bucs running back Doug Martin understands defenses will make stopping him the first priority with rookie Mike Glennon now at quarterback.
But Martin wants better results than Sunday's 13-10 loss to Arizona.
"We just got outplayed by the D," he said this week about being held to 45 yards on 27 carries. "They had about seven, eight, nine (players) in the box throughout the whole game, and we tried some play-action. It worked sometimes. Sometimes, it didn't."
Martin's success as a rookie last season was balanced against quarterback Josh Freeman throwing for 4,065 yards.
And until the Bucs can establish a downfield passing threat, Martin will face lots of defenders at the line of scrimmage.
"I just have to face reality. That's what defenses seem to do: stack the box and stop the run and force the quarterback to throw the ball," he said. "You still have to run the ball, keep a consistent run game as well as the pass game and work off each other like that."
Bucs running backs coach Earnest Byner, who had three 1,000-yard seasons in a 14-year career, said he tells his backs to embrace the challenges of an unblocked defender and making plays when the numbers don't make it easy.
"Even if they have seven, eight guys in the box, we have to find a way to make it work," he said. "Sometimes, that's going to be up to the runner to take care of that seventh or eighth guy: 'You've got to beat him.'
"Most of the time, it's players. We can come up with all kinds of schemes. But D-Mart and the other guys, they're guys that can make plays even with an extra guy coming down into our running game."
Martin's 342 rushing yards rank fourth in the league, though his 3.4 yards per carry are the fewest among the top 12. He said he'll take whatever role the coaches give him, whether it be 10 carries or 30.
Martin caught three passes for 16 yards Sunday after catching a total of four for 19 in the first three games. And he likes getting back to a pass-catching role after grabbing 49 in 2012.
"Mike does a good job of finding his checkdowns and being able to get the ball out to the back if his other reads aren't there," Martin said of rookie QB. "You definitely saw that this past Sunday, and a lot of running backs were able to catch the ball out of the backfield and make some plays."
Martin said the team's 0-4 start is difficult on players and fans, but he stressed the importance of staying positive.
"Having a negative outlook on everything is just going to hold us back," he said.
"We have to keep pushing forward and go on with the season."
Byner said his confidence in Martin starts with a mental toughness and confidence that only grew during the success of his rookie season.
"Doug is a really strong-minded individual," he said. "His belief in what we do has been steady, and his belief in his offensive line and tight ends, even the receivers when they're involved, it's unchallenged."
Greg Auman can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @GregAuman.