Doug Martin is out for the season after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ running back suffered a torn labrum in the loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. The loss of Martin leaves a huge void in the Buccaneers’ backfield where rookie Mike James is the second leading rusher with 17 carries for 57 yards.
James, a sixth round choice in the 2013 NFL Draft, will step into the role of the feature back and should see 15-20 touches per game. He is not an especially fast runner and doesn’t possess great speed but he can catch the ball out of the backfield. He has only been targeted four times this season in the passing game but hauled in all four of those passes for 10 yards, eight of which came on one play.
James won’t replace Martin, that is virtually impossible. However, he is the best option for the Buccaneers right now since Brian Leonard and Jeff Demps are the only other running backs on the roster right now.
Given the fortune of the Buccaneers this season it wouldn’t be surprising to see James get many touches in the passing game and could see more targets than rushes in some games as the Buccaneers figure to struggle in their upcoming schedule that features games against the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints and Falcons over their last nine games.
Don’t expect big things out of James if you are a Bucs fan. He can’t possibly replace Martin in the run game but he can show the coaching staff, and perhaps other teams, that he can be a solid third down back or change of pace back that wears down defenses with bruising between the tackles running.
The loss of Martin takes away the Buccaneers’ best offensive weapon and James will struggle but should churn out solid numbers, especially as a check-down option for Mike Glennon in the passing game.