The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who haven’t had much to be happy about through the first seven weeks of the 2013 NFL season, have even less reason to smile about after this Monday. On Monday, it was announced that their starting running back, Doug Martin, has a shoulder injury that could keep him sidelined for quite a while.
Initial reports from ESPN’s Adam Schefter indicated that Martin could be out for the rest of the season, but later reports from ESPN had Bucs head coach Greg Schiano saying that he’s not ruling out a return for Martin this season, though the back is almost surely going to be out for Thursday Night Football against the Carolina Panthers.
For however long Martin is out, though, the Buccaneers are now going to have to look elsewhere to replace Martin. Martin has been a workhorse for Tampa Bay this season, carrying the ball 127 times over six games. Behind a porous offensive line, he’s not been greatly effective as he’s averaged only 3.6 yards per carry and found the end-zone only once, but he’s definitely been their most reliable option on offense.
In terms of replacing him, the Bucs are somewhat limited in options, but the onus will fall on rookie Mike James. James was selected in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft by Tampa Bay, but hasn’t done much on the field for them this season. He’s carried the ball just 17 times for 57 yards and has four receptions for a meager 10 yards.
James was never incredibly productive in college at Miami, but he showed flashes and has impressive physical potential as a big running back. Considering his lack of experience at this level, though, it’s really hard to know what to expect when giving James a full work load. In any case, the season is going to seem even longer than it already does after the Martin injury.