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Despite setbacks, Doug Martin keeps plugging away for Bucs

Earlier this month, the Bucs announced they will not pick up their fifth-year option for Doug Martin, who ran for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns as a rookie out of Boise State in 2012, but has been slowed by injuries the last two seasons. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]
Earlier this month, the Bucs announced they will not pick up their fifth-year option for Doug Martin, who ran for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns as a rookie out of Boise State in 2012, but has been slowed by injuries the last two seasons. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]
Published May 29, 2015

TAMPA — A veritable gamut of '80s music, from Journey to Judas Priest, served as the amplified soundtrack for the Bucs' practice Thursday.

Who ordered the set list, older than nearly every player participating in the midday workout, was unclear. Not that anyone grumbled.

Not even the guy whose Tampa Bay jersey might soon be a retro item like the concert T-shirts of those whose music blared over the speakers.

"I love this place," fourth-year running back Doug Martin said. "I'd love to play back here again."

The Bucs announced this month they would not pick up their fifth-year option for Martin, who ran for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns as a rookie out of Boise State in 2012 but has been slowed by injuries the past two seasons.

"It didn't surprise me, and I don't want to say whatever, but it's something that comes along with the business," said Martin, who lined up with the first-team offense for the practice without pads.

"This is a part of the business, and if I play to what I know I can do, everything else will fall into place."

What led to Tampa Bay's decision remains unclear.

Martin has missed 15 games over the past two seasons and ultimately could be the odd-man out if second-year back Charles Sims evolves into the Matt Forte-style of runner Bucs coach Lovie Smith had when he was coaching the Bears.

When healthy, Martin remains dynamic, if not consistent. In the 2014 season finale against the Saints, he ran for 108 yards on 19 carries. His pass-catching skills out of the backfield (49 receptions as a rookie) are unquestioned.

"As a player, there's a business part off the field, and then when it's time to work on the field, you do that," Smith said.

"The business part, I can't get into that an awful lot, but Doug knows we like him. He's on the first team like he's always been. He's one of our guys. He's our running back, and he's showing up, and he's getting good work, so I think it's just as simple as that."

Martin, 26, wishes it were that simple.

He said he has purchased a house in Tampa and is nearly finished "building a back yard." He called the collective vibe created by the arrival of this year's first-round draft pick, former Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, as "awesome," and he has hit it off with new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, a former Boise State coach.

"I love this team," Martin said.

From a business perspective, how much longer will it love him back?

"If I take care of everything in my control and stay healthy, I know everything will come into place for me," Martin said.

"Right now I feel awesome, feel great, my body feels good. My mind is right where it needs to be, and I'm ready for this season."

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @ TBTimes_Bulls.