Is Doug Martin the next elite NFL running back?

Doug Martin

Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE

It didn’t take long for Doug Martin to etch his name in the NFL record books. To be specific, it took about eight games.

A 2012 first-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Martin beat out former starter LeGarrette Blount for the No. 1 running back spot this past preseason. Although some were wary about his abilities to handle a full-time load, any doubters appear to have been quieted after his Week 9 performance against the Oakland Raiders.

In route to a hard-fought 42-32 Buccaneers victory, Martin racked up 251 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns, both team records. The fact that he produced at such a high level on only 25 carries made his historic day all the more impressive. If it wasn’t for three late-game carries that lost him 14 total yards as the Buccaneers ran out the clock, Martin’s rushing total would have been even better.

The final total in itself was impressive, but how his yardage got to be so high was the real shocker. In less than 15 minutes of play, Martin broke off runs of 45, 67 and 70 yards which all went for touchdowns. All three were career longs at the time.

Martin’s big game marks only the second time in NFL history that a running back has amassed over 250 yards and four touchdowns in a single game. The only other player to reach the same feat was Mike Anderson of the Denver Broncos back in 2000.

The writing was on the wall, though, following Martin’s breakout performance against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 8. The Boise State product turned in his first 100-yard outing, totaling 135 rushing yards and a touchdown on 29 carries. He also made his presence felt through the air, catching three passes for 79 yards, including a 64-yard catch and run for a momentum-shifting score.

Only eight games into his rookie season, Martin has racked up 794 yards and seven touchdowns on 154 carries, leaving him with a 5.2 yards-per-carry average. Another promising tidbit: Martin has yet to fumble in his NFL career. He’s already proven to be one the league’s top rushers and is quickly turning the Buccaneers offense into one of the most electrifying in the NFL.

If Martin keeps this pace, he could soon be hearing his name talked about as one of the NFL’s top-tier rushers.

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