Bucs looking for ways to jumpstart running game

Dan Parr
Pro Football Weekly
Key matchup: Bucs RB Doug Martin vs. Falcons run defense

While rookie Doug Martin is still the Buccaneers’ primary ballcarrier, the team will be more inclined to give its other backs, especially LeGarrette Blount, opportunities coming out of its Week Five bye than it was during the first quarter of the season.

The loss of ORG Davin Joseph, who suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason, is being felt, and head coach Greg Schiano’s staff has made evaluating its ground-game strategy a priority during the bye. The team didn’t envision ranking in the bottom half of the league in rushing — gaining only 3.6 yards per carry and being among the few teams that have yet to break a run of 20 yards or longer at the bye — when it signed OLG Carl Nicks in free agency and traded back into the first round to draft Martin 31st overall, but that is where it stands.

Martin’s rushing production has dipped each week since the season opener, and he rushed a season-low eight times for 33 yards in a Week Four loss to the Redskins. Martin has 71 carries and Blount is a distant second on the team in rushes with only 13. The team’s options to tweak the running game extend beyond the workload distribution at running back, though, as Schiano acknowledged a change at right guard, where Ted Larsen stepped in for Joseph, is under consideration. Jeremy Trueblood, who was recently demoted at right tackle, Cody Wallace and Jamon Meredith are receiving looks at the ORG spot.