The youth movement in the NFL isn’t only impacting the quarterback position. After starting Fridays’ preseason game against the New England Patriots, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers named rookie running back Doug Martin the starter. Martin carried the ball 13 times for 53 yards and a touchdown in his first preseason start on Friday. He also added 3 catches for 12 yards. His pass catching ability is just one of the reasons the Buccaneers are opting to go with the rookie over Legarrette Blount.
Blount had a decent season last year, finishing with 781 rush yards and 5 touchdowns. Blount’s numbers faded as the though, as his yards per carry average dropped from 4.6 to 3.1 in the final month of the season. Attitude and motivation have always been a concern with Blount. His career hasn’t been without injury concerns either, as he has missed games with a knee injury. Blount’s only considerable advantage over Martin is his size, so he still may be used in short yardage and some goal-line situations, but I expect that will be the extent of his production. With Martin now at the helm, don’t expect much out of Blount.
The Buccaneers drafted Martin, out of Boise State, in the first round with the 31st overall pick. In 2011, Martin totaled 1,299 yards and 16 touchdowns for Boise’s explosive offense. He comes into the NFL with a lot of promise, drawing comparisons to Baltimore Raven’s pro bowl running back Ray Rice. Martin offers good pass catching ability, elusiveness, and the ability to be an every down back.