August 3, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin (22) and running back De'Anthony Curtis (39) practice drills during training camp at One Buc Place. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
Continuing this series of stories, we come to perhaps the most-publicized battle in training camp: Doug Martin vs Legarrette Blount for the role of lead back.
This may be the most intriguing training camp battle of them all: Martin vs Blount. Legarrette Blount is the fan favorite with a host of exciting plays over the past two years, but a limited skillset and an inconsistent performance. Doug Martin is the young rookie, a first-round pick ostensibly brought in to carry the load in Tampa. Who will win this battle?
So far it hasn't really been a contest as Martin has gotten the majority of the first-team carries in training camp, and has outperformed Blount as a pass-catcher and pass-blocker. It seems that Martin will be an every-down back, while Blount is still likely to get a significant share of the carries. The fact that the Bucs want to run the ball a lot will help Blount get on the field.
In the passing game, though, Blount is likely to play an extremely limited role. While he has improved his hands and pass-blocking in training camp, Martin is much more experienced and has a skillset much better suited to being a receiver.
Behind Blount and Martin we have a host of younger backs battling for roster spots. Michael Smith is an electrifying seventh-round rookie with homerun speed, but he was a backup in college and isn't likely to be much more than a situational back in Tampa. Mossis Madu was a servicable undrafted rookie last season who looked okay when he got on the field but didn't do anything special. Robert Hughes hasn't done much in camp, while De'Anthony Curtis' only mention came when he was blown up by Myron Lewis.
Likely regular season roster: Doug Martin, Legarrette Blount, Michael Smith, Mossis Madu