In his first public statements after being suspended four games for violating the NFL’s drug policy in January and spending time in rehab, Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin took responsibility for his troubles but exuded hope he can soon return as one of the better backs in the league.
“It was a journey these past few months,” Martin said, via the Tampa Bay Times. “… I had to get help. It was a journey of self-development. I learned a lot about myself. I’ve had the support of my family, my friends and teammates all around and I’m happy to be back here.”
We don’t know what substance was found in Martin’s system, and he did not reveal the location or duration of his rehab stint. But he proclaimed himself healthy and ready to move on.
“It’s definitely behind me,” Martin said. “I’m just coming out here and doing what I do. Just coming out here and practicing my best.”
Martin, who recently was a victim in a car crash, still must serve three of the remaining games left on his suspension to start the 2017 season after sitting out the 2016 season finale following the positive drug test. But the Bucs did not draft a running back prior to Round 5 (Boise State’s Jeremy McNichols), and Martin was out taking first-team reps during Thursday’s OTA session.
RB @DougMartin22 spoke to the media after today's OTA practice!
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@TBBuccaneers) May 25, 2017
“Right now, I’m just doing what everybody else is doing,” Martin said. “Coming out here for the OTAs and for the games I’m not playing, I’m just going to continue to stay in shape. I’m going somewhere to a special trainer and train with them and stay in my playbook.”
Two years ago, Martin was the NFL’s second-leading rusher. Last season, he slumped before the suspension. Can the 28-year-old Martin return to form in his sixth season in what so far has been a strangely up-and-down career? That remains to be seen, but the Bucs appear loaded on offense with the additions of DeSean Jackson, O.J. Howard, Chris Godwin and others and could be a team on the rise.
Especially if Martin can keep his house in order, which he says is his goal of proving this season.
“[I want Buccaneers fans to know] that I’m a stronger person individually, mentally and physically,” Martin said, “you know, better on and off the field.”
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