TAMPA — Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin missed the final 10 games of the 2013 season because of a torn labrum, but you wouldn’t know it from watching his work at the team’s minicamp this week, coach Lovie Smith said.
“Is he coming off an injury? You can’t really tell,’’ Smith said of Martin, who ran for 456 yards on 127 carries last season after gaining more than 1,400 rushing yards as a rookie. “He’s taken every rep we’ve asked him to.’’
Not only has Martin taken those reps, he’s made a good impression doing so. The 2012 Pro Bowler has quickly reinforced the belief Smith developed from watching film that Martin will remain an impact weapon.
“To finally see him on the football field, he’s compact and he runs downhill an awful lot, but the wiggle that he has, he can make people miss in the open field,’’ Smith said.
“And he’s a happy guy. I like being around him. He takes coaching well. If you’ve seen (running backs coach Tim) Spencer, he’s had a smile on his face quite a bit lately. And not just (because of) Doug, either.
“Bobby Rainey is a good football player, too, and he’s compact and can make you miss. If we say we’re going to be a team that’s going to run the ball, those guys need to be that way and be guys that we can count on, bell cows.’’
Rainey, picked up off waivers from Cleveland in October to add depth, ended up leading the Bucs with 532 rushing yards after injuries to Martin and Mike James pushed him into the starter’s role.