Remember that amazing rookie season Doug Martin had in 2012? You know, the one where he accounted for 1,900+ yards and 12 touchdowns?
Well, Martin was hoping to do that again last season. Instead, he suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder in a Week 7 loss to Atlanta and finished the season with 456 yards and one touchdown.
“It was unfortunate,” Martin said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “No one wants to get injured, but that comes with the game. I got injured, and now I have to fight through it. After having that awesome rookie season, you wanted to do it again. It got cut short with the injury, but I can’t wait to get back out there.”
Martin will have that opportunity this Sunday against the Carolina Panthers and will get to prove his worth to a brand-new coaching staff. Lovie Smith, who led the Bears to a Super Bowl appearance in 2006, replaced Greg Schiano, who was fired after two tumultuous seasons in Tampa Bay.
Smith apparently told Martin to expect a heavy load this season.
“I didn’t mind that,” Martin said. “I just want to come in here and show the new coaching staff what I can do – that I’m still the player I was that rookie year. I believe that I am.”
In order to do that, Martin will have to reestablish himself as a receiving threat. He missed 10 games last year, but he was on pace to fall well short of the 49 catches he had as a rookie.
“It’s just a mindset,” Martin explained. “All I have to tell myself is to look the ball in. If I do that, I can catch any ball. It’s just telling myself that consistently and catching balls on the side with the assistant coaches. They’ve helped me out a lot. I’ve definitely improved my pass-catching.”
The newly acquired Logan Mankins, meanwhile, should improve a rushing attack that ranked 22nd in the NFL last season. Yes, adding a six-time Pro Bowler is never a bad thing.
“He came in here and he didn’t act like a vet; he acted like a rookie that didn’t know the playbook,” Martin said. “He was asking questions. He wanted to learn. He wanted to get a feel. He picked it up good. He picked it up quickly. He’s fitting right in. Everyone’s happy that he’s here. He’s going to be able to open up those holes and keep guys off the quarterback on a consistent basis. That’s what we needed. Logan’s our guy.”
Tampa Bay will certainly need him Sunday against Carolina. The Panthers boast arguably the fiercest front seven in all of football.
Win or lose, Martin has high hopes for Tampa Bay – and so do a lot of people in and out of the league.
“Me being out for a year, I kind of feel like this is another rookie season,” Martin said. “I have a lot of confidence in my abilities, and I have confidence in this line. We have a lot of weapons on offense and our defense is pretty good. We’re going to put our best product out there.”