Doug Martin is the only player in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers backfield to have taken a carry for the team over the past year. It is very reasonable to believe that the versatile 24-year-old running back could lead the league in touches next year if healthy, and by a decent margin. Heck, as a rookie Martin finished third in the NFL with 319 carries and seventh among backs with 49 receptions, good for third in total touches behind only Arian Foster and Adrian Peterson.
I’m not all that convinced Mike James, Michael Smith, Brian Leonard or Peyton Hillis will put a major dent in that either. In order you have a seventh-round rookie (James), seventh-rounder who received no carries last season (Smith), a journeyman backup (Leonard) and veteran who’s been cut loose by two teams in consecutive years after zero-impact seasons (Hillis).
As far as the battle for the No. 2 spot in Bucs training camp goes — for those who might like to handcuff Martin in fantasy football — it seems James has taken the lead. Whether this frontrunning status is absolutely true or not, it has to be encouraging for James that he received second-team reps in Thursday practice (via Pewter Report’s Eric Dellaratta). The Tampa Tribune’s Roy Cummings has tweeted that “It’s early and plenty can still happen but Mike James is making a very good impression and is moving up the depth chart.”
Martin’s whopping total of 368 total touches as a rookie running back is quite astounding, with Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris’ 346 touches the only total coming even close. It’s reasonable to expect this to rise in year two and even threaten the 400 mark.