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Running back Doug Martin fits Tampa Bay Buccaneers' new scheme

Published Apr. 28, 2012

TAMPA — Something has become crystal clear after Bucs coach Greg Schiano's first night helping direct the draft: He wants players for his style of football.

That was, perhaps, most evident when the Bucs drafted running back Doug Martin late in Thursday's first round. The role of Martin, the 31st overall choice from Boise State, was not hard to determine less than 24 hours later.

The first-team All-Mountain West pick will team with LeGarrette Blount to do what Schiano loves most: pound the rock.

"We have a guy like LeGarrette now, and to have Doug and LeGarrette, we can play a little bit of keep-away," Schiano said.

"I think our offensive line is going to be really, really good. (Running the ball is) not maybe what's en vogue in the National Football League right now, but I think it can be very successful. We have to grind it out and get tougher. But I think we're very capable of doing that."

Martin will be a big part of that effort. Although Schiano was quick to point to Blount and his expected contributions, the Bucs also are celebrating Martin's full complement of running back skills. That could eventually make him not only the starter but the one who gets a majority of the carries.

"He is a three-down back," Schiano said. "There's not a lot of them in college football. And he can catch the football. He can do it all."

It's something Martin takes pride in, but he hasn't become the player he is by accident.

"It's taking the time and working on each attribute of the position; the passing game, the blocking," Martin said. "It's taking pride in all aspects as a running back."

Pass protection is an area in which Blount has not excelled, making him a limited contributor on third down and in passing situations. But Martin embraces that part of the job.

"At Boise State, we had scans and reads and passes off of run (formations) and ran plays off of pass (formations)," Martin said. "It's kind of fun for me actually. It's like a puzzle."

Martin rushed for 1,299 yards and 16 touchdowns as a redshirt senior in 2011 and finished his career with 3,431 yards and 43 touchdowns. His production was consistent throughout his career, and his versatility includes time on special teams.

But if there's a concern, it's he rarely played against elite competition in the Mountain West. One of his least-impressive games came against Georgia in the 2011 opener for both teams. The SEC team held him to 57 yards on 24 carries.

Still, Martin's ability to use his size — 5 feet 9, 219 pounds — is something that gives the Bucs confidence he'll be a factor in the NFL. In part because he is well built, a Boise State teammate started referring to Martin as "muscle hamster," a nickname Martin doesn't exactly love.

Here's what Martin does love: Schiano's attitude toward running the football.

"It makes me real excited to know they're going to have a great emphasis on running the ball," Martin said. "We have a great (offensive) line this year, and I'm excited to start the season."

Stephen F. Holder can be reached at sholder@tampabay.com.

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