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Ankle injury still hampers Bucs' Doug Martin

Doug Martin watched Wednesday's practice with a walking boot on his left foot. [BRENDAN FITTERER | Times]
Doug Martin watched Wednesday's practice with a walking boot on his left foot. [BRENDAN FITTERER | Times]
Published Oct. 30, 2014

TAMPA — The ankle injury that took Bucs RB Doug Martin out of Sunday's game against the Vikings in the third quarter still had him sidelined three days later. He watched Wednesday's practice with a walking boot on his left foot.

Martin's injury and uncertainty for Sunday's game at Cleveland comes as another back, rookie Charles Sims, is eligible to play for the first time after spending eight weeks on short-term injured reserve. Sims returned to practice last week and has shown promise as he recovers from an ankle injury.

"He'll have a chance," coach Lovie Smith said of the third-round draft pick. "Two weeks now to see him on the field, he's getting better and better. Got a good look at him (Wednesday). That quickness and all the things we like when we drafted him, we're starting to see that. We've missed having him out there. We'll see how the week plays out."

Martin has struggled this season, with 166 yards in five games and an average of 2.9 yards per carry. The team also has leading rusher Bobby Rainey, who also had a team-high six catches in Sunday's loss. Smith had high praise for Sims in the preseason before his injury.

"There's no doubt, when (Sims) is ready to go, he will give us a spark," Smith said. "I feel pretty confident in saying that."

MORE INJURIES: Starting LT Anthony Collins also was held out of practice. It was due to a foot injury and not the knee injury that limited him in practice last week, Smith said. Collins played Sunday as the offensive line gave up five sacks to the Vikings. Backup LB Brandon Magee, who has missed two games with a knee injury, also remains sidelined.

WR Vincent Jackson (rib), DE Michael Johnson (hand) and C Evan Dietrich-Smith (knee) were limited in practice, Smith said.

SMALL STEP: RB Mike James hadn't had a carry in more than a month, so the result — converting fourth and 1 to set up a go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter Sunday — was exactly what James wanted.

"It felt good to come through for my team," said James, who had been limited to special teams work since the third game of the season. "I appreciated them calling my number, and the best thing you can be is accountable. I got in and got what we needed."

The Bucs also used 6-foot-5, 283-pound TE Luke Stocker on a few downs as a fullback, and he said he relished his cameo at a position he had played occasionally since high school.

"It was a good opportunity for me to go out and get some playing time, to show the coaches another skill set," said Stocker, who logged 18 offensive snaps after totaling 12 in the previous three games.

"I felt very comfortable playing fullback. I've played it sparingly, but it's nothing I'm unfamiliar with. Just more opportunities now."

ROSTER MOVE: As expected, the team signed QB Mike Kafka and former Georgia WR Tavarres King to the practice squad. Kafka had been the No. 2 quarterback after starter Josh McCown was sidelined with a thumb injury but was waived Monday.

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