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Bucs’ Doug Martin showing signs that he can be a weapon once again

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Say. Didn’t you used to be Doug Martin?

Martin, the once-and-current running back of the Tampa Bay Bucs, seem to have extra juice in his stride these days. Once again, he is healthy. Once again, he is happy. And once again, he looks like a threat for the Bucs.

And who said a man can’t rediscover himself in the preseason?

Lately, Martin has been a memory for the Bucs, a back who hasn’t gained 500 yards the past two seasons. Yes, the offensive line was lousy, and yes, he has battled injuries. But not as many as 500? Martin had become a memory, and it was trendy to look to the other running backs on the roster.

It was so bad that the Bucs didn’t use the option clause in his contract in the off-season, a signal that this was a make-or-break year for Martin.

“I wouldn’t say a wake-up call,” Martin said. “I’m not going to lie, it’s in the back of my mind but that’s something that you can’t let it creep up to the front because that’s just going to distract me and I’m just going to go out there and do my job and get these W’s.”

In two games, Martin has done that. Against Minnesota, Martin had a couple of flashes. And he had 59 yards in six carries against the Bengals, including a 30-yarder. And suddenly, he looks like he did as a rookie again.

“A rookie all over again?” he said. “I wouldn’t say a rookie all over again exactly, but a little smarter – definitely smarter and aware of what I need to do to keep myself healthy. Just being in the NFL, I’m just smarter in that way.”

Martin says he’s leaner, and quicker, than he has been in the past.

“I did have to watch my diet,” Martin said. “I couldn’t eat the foods that I wanted to eat: Chinese, pizza, all that stuff. But I did (eat) high protein and carbs for energy, so I did change my diet a little bit. I definitely wanted to shed the weight but also keep my power as well, so that was something I kept in mind.”

Against Cleveland this week, Martin said he wanted a bigger workload.

“The first game, I had six or seven carries and I played a quarter for the next one,” Martin said. “I’ll hopefully be able to play three quarters for this next game, and it’ll be interesting to see where we are as an offense and what we can do.”

The Bucs, of course, could use the old Martin again. It’s hard enough to rely on a rookie quarterback. They need the slash, the flash, that Martin used to bring.

“I’ll try to turn the doubters into believers,” he said.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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