The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be glad to have Doug Martin back healthy, as the running back has been cleared for practice. At least, that's what Martin let the world know via Twitter.
CLEARED!!!! Excited to be back y'all!!— Doug Martin (@DougMartin22) March 31, 2014
Martin suffered a torn labrum last season, limiting him to just six games in which he was less-than-productive just one year after turning in a near-dominant rookie season. The shoulder injury should not be a long-term problem going forward, and will hopefully be remembered as little more than one of many disasters of Greg Schiano's second season in charge.
With Doug Martin back and Bobby Rainey re-signed, the Buccaneers have a pretty good one-two punch. The Bucs also have Mike James, Jeff Demps and Michael Smith on the roster, but all three backs ended last season on injured reserve and their status is unknown at this point.
The Bucs can expect to rely heavily on the run, judging by Jeff Tedford's and Lovie Smith's previous offenses. Having a bell-cow in Martin will be a great help, but the team has made it clear that the other backs will be involved as well. The third-year back will see a solid workload, but he probably won't come close to the 319 carries and 49 catches he saw in his rookie year.
A more significant problem may be the team's offensive line, which struggled to clear the way for any of the Bucs' running backs last year. While Tampa Bay has a solid pair of starting tackles and signed center Evan Dietrich-Smith in free agency, the starting guards remain massive question marks and could derail the team's plans.