After an impressive preseason showing, Tampa Bay rookie RB Doug Martin has been named the starter over incumbent LeGarrette Blount by head coach Greg Schiano.
Martin had 53 yards on 13 carries with one touchdown in his first NFL start Friday against the Patriots. Martin and Blount entered Friday’s game with similar preseason stats through two weeks, but Blount finished with 22 yards on seven carries against New England.
“At the very beginning, I sat them both down and told them what the deal was,” Schiano told reporters. “They knew it. I think — when you watch the tape, and LeGarrette’s a smart guy — when he watches the tape, he sees that he got outperformed.”
Still, Schiano noted that Martin’s promotion isn’t necessarily a permanent one.
“We don’t hand out jobs and sign them over,” Schiano said. “It’s always competition around here, continually. I think Doug’s done a great job and that’s why he’s got the No. 1 seat. But he’s got to work to keep it.”
Martin was drafted 31st overall in the 2012 NFL draft after starring for Boise State. Blount totaled 1,007 yards with a 5.0-yard rushing average as a rookie in 2010, but finished 2011 with 781 yards. He also has three lost fumbles in each of his two NFL seasons.
The way we see it
Martin’s first-round draft status was a sign of the Buccaneers’ expectations for him. As a more complete player than Blount, Martin was already playing ahead of the veteran in third-down situations and has now earned himself more carries as the every-down starter. That doesn’t mean Blount won’t get his chances, but after taking a step back in his second season, the former undrafted rookie may have already hit his ceiling.