Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bobby Rainey

Bucs need to keep RB Doug Martin

February, 25, 2015
Feb 25
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TAMPA, Fla. – On the surface, Buccaneers running back Doug Martin looks very expendable.

He’s coming off an unproductive season and the coaching staff seems to have big plans for Charles Sims in his second season. The Bucs should be able to get a decent draft pick in exchange for Martin. So why not deal him?

Martin
Because it would be a mistake. I’m not sure Martin ever gets back to being the 1,400-yard runner he was as a rookie in 2012. That sure didn’t seem likely last year when Martin gained only 494 yards and averaged 3.7 yards per carry. But some of that had to do with injuries and some of it had to do with poor blocking by the offensive line.

There’s no question Sims is a talent. He might be the feature back next season. But the Bucs still need Martin. In the current NFL, you need two quality running backs. Sims isn’t the kind of back who can handle 25 carries a game.

The Bucs need Martin to handle some of the carries. Yeah, they have Bobby Rainey and Mike James. But those two rarely played when Martin and Sims were both healthy last season. Rainey and James are special-teams players who can fill in at running back in a pinch.

Martin is more than that. When healthy, Martin still can be a productive back, especially if he gets some help from the offensive line.

Even if Sims is the main guy going forward, the Bucs still need Martin as insurance.

On the hot seat: Doug Martin

February, 5, 2015
Feb 5
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TAMPA, Fla. -- We continue our look at veteran Buccaneers who could be candidates for trade or release this offseason with running back Doug Martin.

Martin
 Why he could be on the hot seat: Martin hasn’t been the same player he was when he rushed for over 1,400 yards as a rookie in 2012. He averaged only 3.7 yards per carry in 2014 and never got into any sort of rhythm. Martin was drafted by former general manager Mark Dominik and former coach Greg Schiano. The current regime doesn’t have deep ties to Martin, but they did draft Charles Sims last year. The coaching staff is very high on Sims, and that’s not good news for Martin. Throw in Bobby Rainey and Mike James, and the Bucs have a lot of depth in the backfield. That could make Martin a candidate for a trade. Despite his recent struggles, Martin still should have some trade value and probably could bring the Bucs a mid-round draft pick.

Why he could stay: Martin’s struggles last year were due in large part to poor blocking by the offensive line. He still is a talented running back, and coach Lovie Smith likes to have a lot of depth at that position. It is possible Martin sticks around and is used in a rotation with Sims. Martin is under contract for 2015, and the Bucs hold an option for 2016.

Season in review: Running backs

January, 6, 2015
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TAMPA, Fla. -- We continue our position-by-position season analysis with the running backs.

Martin
Sims
If it wasn’t for the offensive line, this might be the most disappointing position group for the Bucs. Then again, the poor showing in the running game largely was due to horrible play on the offensive line.

The Bucs finished No. 29 in rushing offense and they struggled all season to get their running game into a rhythm. You can put a fair amount of the blame on the fact starter Doug Martin missed five games with injuries and wasn’t fully healthy most of the year.

But Martin mostly was ineffective when he was playing. He averaged just 3.7 yards per carry and finished with 494 yards. Martin didn’t look anything like the running back who rushed for more than 1,400 yards as a rookie in 2012.

Martin doesn’t seem to be a favorite of the coaching staff and could end up being trade bait in the offseason. The coaching staff seems much higher on Charles Sims. He was a third-round draft pick by the new regime.

Sims missed the first half of the season with an ankle injury. But his playing time gradually increased once he returned. Sims averaged just 2.8 yards a carry, but was more of a factor in the passing game, where he averaged 10.0 yards per catch.

Bobby Rainey got a lot of playing time early on with Martin banged up. Rainey averaged 4.3 yards per carry and was Tampa Bay’s most elusive back. But Rainey was reduced to being just a return man once Sims got healthy.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have 11 potential unrestricted free agents as they enter the 2015 offseason. The new league year opens at 4 p.m. ET March 10, when unrestricted free agents can sign with any team.

Here’s a list of the Bucs’ unrestricted and restricted free agents:

Unrestricted

Da'Quan Bowers defensive tackle
Adrian Clayborn, defensive end
Oniel Cousins, offensive tackle
Larry English, defensive end
Dane Fletcher, linebacker
Mason Foster, linebacker
Mike Jenkins, cornerback
Lawrence Sidbury, defensive end
Luke Stocker, tight end
Jason Williams, linebacker
Major Wright, safety

Restricted

Leonard Johnson, cornerback
Bobby Rainey, running back
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be without three starters and two key backups for Sunday’s game at Detroit.

Defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (hamstring), left tackle Anthony Collins (elbow) and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (back) all missed Friday’s practice and are listed as questionable. It’s the same story for backup running back/return man Bobby Rainey (ankle) and tight end Brandon Myers (calf).

“When guys don’t practice on a Friday, it’s not a good thing,’’ coach Lovie Smith said.

The Collins injury is the biggest concern. It would mark the second straight week the Bucs have been without a starting offensive lineman. Center Evan Dietrich-Smith missed last week’s game with an illness. Collins hasn’t had a great season, but his potential absence would leave the Bucs without their best bet to protect quarterback Josh McCown's blind side.

If McDonald can’t play, Akeem Spence would get his second straight start and Da'Quan Bowers would get time as a rotational player. If Seferian-Jenkins doesn’t play, Luke Stocker likely would be the starter.

Rainey did a nice job as the return man last week, but the Bucs signed Solomon Patton, who was with the team early in the season, as an option if Rainey can’t play.
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be without left tackle Anthony Collins for Sunday’s game at Detroit.

Collins was added to the injury report and did not practice Thursday due to an elbow injury. Coach Lovie Smith didn’t get into the specifics of Collins’ injury but didn’t sound optimistic.

“When you miss practice on a Thursday, it’s not a good thing," Smith said.

If Collins can’t play Sunday, Oniel Cousins likely would get the start.

Defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (hamstring), tight end Brandon Myers (calf), running back Bobby Rainey (ankle) and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (back) also were held out of practice. Middle linebacker Mason Foster was excused from practice for personal reasons.

W2W4: Bengals vs. Buccaneers

November, 29, 2014
11/29/14
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What to watch for in Sunday’s game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

The Tampa Bay return game. This has been a weak spot for the Bucs all season. Marcus Thigpen was the latest return man, but he was released after having trouble holding onto the ball. The Bucs didn’t bring in a return man from outside. It looks as if there’s a good chance Bobby Rainey will handle both kickoff and punt returns.

A.J. Green. The Cincinnati receiver presents a tough challenge for Tampa Bay’s secondary. Green had been slowed by a toe injury earlier in the season, but he has come on strong recently. Green is averaging 124 receiving yards over the last two games.

Cincinnati’s running game. The Bengals rank seventh in the league in rushing offense while the Bucs are tied for No. 19 in defending the run. Jeremy Hill is averaging 4.9 yards per carry, and Giovani Bernard is back after missing four games with a hip injury. With nose tackle Clinton McDonald banged up, the Bucs might have trouble stopping the run.

Mike Evans. The Tampa Bay rookie receiver has been on fire for the last month. With a touchdown reception in each of the last four games, Evans is tied for the most consecutive games with a touchdown by a rookie receiver in the last 10 years.

The streak. It has been difficult to find positive stats for the Bucs this year. But here’s one: The Bucs have won their last six games against the Bengals.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Doug Martin knows the critics are out there.

They say he has lost it and he's not the same running back who rushed for more than 1,400 yards as a rookie in 2012. So what does the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' running back say about all that?

[+] EnlargeDoug Martin
Jerry Lai/USA TODAY SportsBucs RB Doug Martin is averaging 2.8 yards per carry, far below his 2012 season average of 4.6.
"I don't say anything," Martin said. "That's something you've got to ignore. That's just outside noise. You've just got to ignore that and keep playing the game and having confidence in my game. It's just something that you've got to brush off."

But Martin hasn't been able to brush off defenders very often this season and that has fueled the critics. Martin is averaging just 2.8 yards a carry and has 193 rushing yards and one touchdown.

Injuries have been a factor. Martin missed two games with a knee injury and three games with an ankle injury.

"You don't want to make excuses, but injuries do kind of slow you down," Martin said.

But Martin is healthy now and his production hasn't picked up. In Sunday's loss to Chicago, Martin had 11 carries for 27 yards. He also was used in a rotation with Charles Sims and Bobby Rainey.

"As a running back you do want a rhythm," Martin said. "But we have Charles, Bobby and myself in the backfield and each guy brings something different to the table."

Coach Lovie Smith has said the run blocking by the offensive line hasn't been as good as he would like. That's a big part of the reason the Bucs rank No. 29 in the league in rushing offense.

But much of the blame from the outside is falling on Martin. From the inside, the belief is Martin still has what it takes to be an elite back.

"I think so," quarterback Josh McCown said. "Everything's been so up and down with injuries and stuff like that. There's been an inconsistency of just time for him. It's not anybody's fault. It's just where it's been. I still absolutely think he's capable of doing those things because it still flashes. I think it's more of us as a whole, as a group, continuing to improve in that area."

Martin said he is every bit as good as he was as a rookie.

"I do believe so," Martin said. "I'm very confident in my ability."

But the only way to silence the critics is to start churning out yards like he did in 2012.

Buccaneers shake up return game

November, 25, 2014
11/25/14
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TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have given up on return man Marcus Thigpen.

Thigpen
The team waived Thigpen on Tuesday and made a couple moves at tight end, where injuries are a concern. Thigpen had struggled since taking over the job from Trindon Holliday.

The Bucs didn’t add a return man in their roster moves, so it appears likely they’ll turn to in-house candidates. Receiver Louis Murphy and running back Bobby Rainey can do punt returns. Those two also could be candidates along with running back Mike James for kickoff returns.

The moves at tight end came after all three tight ends were injured in Sunday’s loss to Chicago. The Bucs promoted tight end Cameron Brate from the practice squad and signed tight end D.J. Williams.

It’s unclear how serious the injuries are to Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Brandon Myers and Luke Stocker, but the moves indicate the Bucs expect at least some of their tight ends to be out for Sunday’s game against Cincinnati.

The Bucs also made some moves on their practice squad, signing linebacker Denicos Allen, tight end Taylor Sloat and fullback Evan Rodriguez while releasing tight end Ted Bolser and cornerback Quinton Pointer.

W2W4: Buccaneers at Bears

November, 22, 2014
11/22/14
12:00
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Five things to watch in Sunday's game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chicago Bears:

Lovie's homecoming: Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith coached the Bears for nine seasons and took them to a Super Bowl. Smith has been downplaying the significance of his return to Chicago by saying it's just another game. But deep down, the game is likely to mean a lot to Smith. He's a proud guy and it had to hurt to be fired after a 10-6 season in 2012.

Tampa Bay's running game: If the weather forecast is accurate, it will be critical for Tampa Bay to establish the running game. The forecast is for rain at Soldier Field and the Bucs may have to stay on the ground. That's not an area of strength for Tampa Bay, which ranks No. 28 in the league in rushing. It looks like starting running back Doug Martin will play after missing the last three games with an ankle injury. The combination of Martin, Bobby Rainey and Charles Sims needs to give the Bucs consistency in the running game.

Mike Evans: The rookie receiver has been one of the hottest players in the league the last three weeks. He's had at least 100 receiving yards and at least one touchdown in each of the last three games. Can he continue the streak for a fourth game? The Bears are bound to devote a lot of attention to Evans. That could open things up for receiver Vincent Jackson and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

Tampa Bay's pass rush: The Bucs had a season-high six sacks in last week's victory against Washington. It looks like the defensive line is starting to click. The Bucs have started to get pressure from players beyond defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Defensive end Michael Johnson is getting healthy after playing through an ankle injury and a broken hand and Jacquies Smith has been a pleasant surprise as a situational pass rusher.

Chicago's wide receivers: Alshon Jeffery is 6-foot-3 and Brandon Marshall is 6-4. That's one of the biggest receiving tandems the Tampa Bay secondary has seen this season. There's a misconception that the secondary should be ready to match up with big receivers because the defensive backs have worked against Evans, Jackson and Seferian-Jenkins. But that's not really the case. The first-team defense doesn't practice against the first-team offense. But at least the backups will be ready for the big receivers.

Four is a crowd in Bucs' backfield

November, 21, 2014
11/21/14
2:01
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TAMPA, Fla. -- For the first time this season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should have a full stable of healthy running backs when they play the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

Doug Martin, who has missed the past three games with an ankle injury, appears to be on schedule to make his return.

"Doug is back this week and that’s a good thing," coach Lovie Smith said Friday. “He looked pretty good in practice."

Martin
But Martin’s return means the Bucs face a tough decision on which running backs to activate Sunday.

"Four guys available," Smith said. "It’s pretty hard to dress four running backs. But we like having those decisions. It’s tough in a way, but in a way it’s really not. That’s why practice is so important, and we knew that we should have everybody back this week, so we’ve been paying close attention. We have a plan we feel comfortable with."

In addition to Martin, the Bucs have Bobby Rainey, Mike James and Charles Sims. Rainey has been starting in Martin’s place and he’s a regular on special teams, so he seems likely to be active. Sims has led the team in carries in each of the past two games, and James has carved out a niche as the short-yardage rusher.

Martin also missed two games earlier in the season. With Martin in and out of the lineup and Sims missing the first eight games with an ankle injury, nobody has stepped up and given the Bucs anything close to a feature back. But Smith said that situation will sort itself out.

"To me right now, if you continue to play guys, they’ll tell you all that," Smith said. "Bobby has had his moment. Mike James has kind of moved into his role. Yeah, we would like to see one of our running backs rush for about 200 yards and become the bell cow."

In injury news, linebacker Lavonte David (hamstring) missed his second straight day of practice. Smith said David’s status for Sunday will be a game-time decision.
TAMPA, Fla. -- The numbers say the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can't run the football. But they're not going to stop trying.

The Bucs were supposed to have a run-first offense under coach Lovie Smith. But they've had little success on the ground. Sunday's victory against the Washington Redskins was a prime example. The Bucs gained only 48 yards on 21 carries. The passing game -- mainly Mike Evans' seven catches for 209 yards and two touchdowns -- bailed the Bucs out on that occasion. But Tampa Bay's running game has been largely ineffective in a 2-8 start.

But quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo, who calls the offensive plays, said Wednesday the Bucs are going to continue to try to run the ball.

"We're not going to stop trying to build that foundation," Arroyo said. "We're going to continue to try to do it. The passes and the rushes were pretty balanced in the [Washington] game. There might not be 5-, 8- or 10-yard rushes in there, but there were some plays in there where it could have been. There were a couple of times where it gets close and we trip over our own guy. It's getting there."

The running struggles aren't due to a lack of talent in the backfield. Starter Doug Martin has missed five games due to injury. But the Bucs have plenty of depth at the position. Bobby Rainey has shown promise and Mike James has emerged as the third-down back. Rookie Charles Sims missed the first eight games with an ankle injury. But the Bucs obviously have big plans for Sims, who has led the team in carries in each of the last two games.

Arroyo said his confidence in the running game hasn't wavered.

"It's getting close and all of the sudden it goes from a 2.8-yard average over to a 4.1 average and we're all saying there's the efficiency that you need," Arroyo said. "A 4-yard run on first down and you're going to be effective. You can't stop doing it. We're not going to stop doing it. Being one dimensional is not what we're interested in."

W2W4: Buccaneers at Redskins

November, 15, 2014
11/15/14
12:00
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Five things to watch in Sunday’s game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins:

Mike Evans: The rookie receiver has been the closest thing the Bucs have had to a bright spot, particularly in the last few weeks. Evans has had 100 receiving yards and at least one touchdown in each of his last two games. If he can do it a third time, he’ll become the first rookie receiver since Randy Moss in 1998 to have three straight games with 100 receiving yards and at least one touchdown.

Charles Sims: Look for more action for the rookie running back, who made his debut last week. He’s not going to get 25 carries, but he will get a fair share. In last week’s loss to Atlanta, the Bucs ran the ball on 38 percent of the snaps Sims was in the game. They only ran 14 percent of the time when Bobby Rainey was in the game. You can look for a similar ratio Sunday.

DeSean Jackson vs. Tampa Bay’s secondary: This matchup doesn’t look favorable for the Bucs, who have had some problems in the secondary. Jackson could cause nightmares. He has nine catches of 40 yards or more this season. No one else in the NFL has more than five.

Robert Griffin III: After a stellar rookie season, the Washington quarterback has struggled. His record as a starting quarterback since his rookie year is 4-12. But Griffin is still dangerous as a runner and a passer and Tampa Bay’s struggling defense can’t afford to take him lightly.

Josh McCown: The Tampa Bay quarterback returned last week after missing five games with a thumb injury. McCown looked sharper than he did in the first three weeks of the season. The passing game got into a rhythm for one of the few times this season. But McCown faces a big challenge against a Washington defense that’s ranked No. 10 in the league.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Buccaneers running back Doug Martin will miss his third straight game due to an ankle injury, coach Lovie Smith said Friday.

 Martin practiced on a limited basis the past two days, but Smith said he was not medically cleared to play in Sunday’s game at Washington.

Once upon a time, going without Martin would have been a big deal for the Bucs. But Martin’s star has faded this season. Even when healthy, he’s averaged just 2.9 yards per carry.

Bobby Rainey has been starting in Martin’s place, but the Bucs have plenty of other depth at running back and are likely to use three of them.

Rookie Charles Sims made his debut last week after missing the first half of the season with an ankle injury. The coaching staff is particularly high on Sims, who was drafted in the third round. The team also has Mike James as a short-yardage back and special-teams player.
TAMPA, Fla. – Back in the offseason, especially after they drafted Charles Sims, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers repeatedly said Doug Martin still was their “bell-cow’’ running back.

It has become apparent throughout the season that’s no longer the case. But, on Wednesday, quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo actually came out and said the Bucs don’t have a bell-cow runner, mostly because they don’t need one.

Sims
“I don’t think we need to say that,’’ Arroyo said. “There’s no need for that. You’ve got three good ones and you’ve got guys in the third-and-one situation that can carry the flag and you’ve got guys that can carry it in certain situations. That’s a great thing to have. I think a lot of teams wish they had that kind of flexibility. We have some options and they’re all guys we’re really excited about.’’

Martin’s season has been star-crossed. He has been injured and has missed four games, including the last two. Even when healthy, Martin hasn’t been very productive. He has 58 carries for 166 yards for a 2.9 average.

Backup Bobby Rainey has been more productive with 87 carries for 388 yards. Mike James has established himself as the short-yardage back.

Then, there’s Sims, on whom the Bucs used a third-round draft pick. The team has described Sims as an all-purpose running back and it’s obvious they have big plans for him. But Sims missed the first eight games with an ankle injury. He made his debut and had 23 yards on eight carries.

What Arroyo was saying was that the Bucs are going to use a committee approach going forward. That might not be good news for fantasy owners of Tampa Bay’s running backs. But it should be good news for the Bucs.

They have four talented running backs, with four different skill sets, so they might as well use them all.

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