Earnest Byner may be the greatest running backs coach who ever lived, he was fired along with every other coach this past January. Too bad. Shouldn't have accepted a job under Greg Schiano, I guess? But the veteran running back(s coach) did some really good things for the Bucs, mentoring Doug Martin, Mike James and Bobby Rainey -- a group that will compete with Charles Sims for carries this season.
Byner appeared on the Overtime Ireland podcast to discuss his history, and they touched on Doug Martin as well.
"I got a chance to really spend some of that individual time with him. And I could see in rookie minicamp that this guy had a chance to be one of the special guys. He's a freak. He's a little bit like [Maurice Jones-Drew], a little like [Chris Johnson], because those guys have a little something that's a little bit different. Doug in my opinion can be a better receiver than what he's shown the first few years. He has an opportunity to actually go out, spread out and make some plays, do some of the things Maurice [Jones-Drew] did."
Praise for Doug Martin is nothing new, but it's always good to hear. What's more interesting is Byner's conviction that the Buccaneers should use him in more of a pass-catching role. Meanwhile, they drafted Charles Sims largely because he's versatile and a very good pass-catcher.
Using Martin as a consistent receiver doesn't make much sense to me, either. His short stature and seemingly short arms make life tough on him as a receiver, and the numerous drops last season don't exactly instill confidence. He's very good when he can get the ball behind the line of scrimmage, but I haven't seen him produce as a receiver running downfield routes. That doesn't mean he can't do it, but it's not his ideal role.
Doug Martin will at least be the team's lead back this season. The Bucs have already committed to a committee backfield, and other players will certainly get carries. Charles Sims seems most likely to earn a chance as a receiving back, but that's not certain to happen either. Training camp should give us a better idea of what to expect at this position.