TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be without running back Doug Martin for the first three games of the season, and he'll be without football. That's because of a three-game suspension he'll serve after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance last year. He says it's not affecting the way he approaches training camp, though.
"I'm going to approach this just like any other season," Martin said. "I will be out those three games. That's the reality of the situation. During those three weeks, I'm going to prepare myself to get those legs back under me and get ready to play."
Truly though, Martin can't approach this like any other season because he'll have to go from camp to preseason, which is normally when players get their legs under them and get into game shape, and then come to a stop.
It won't be like last season, when he missed six games with a right hamstring strain and gradually got better enough to return to action. Players who are suspended aren't permitted to practice at team facilities. So while he can run and lift on his own, he won't be getting practice reps.
He's currently working with his trainers to devise a plan that will keep him in the best possible shape while he's gone for those three weeks. They're still in the early stages of it, and still need to determine if he'll be working out in Tampa or back home in California.
"This is my first time doing it, and my last time," Martin said. "It's something that, we're definitely going to make sure that my regimen is equal to the amount of work that should be done. We're going to get it right. I'm going to get it right for the season when I come back from the suspension."
He does understand that anything can happen in that three-week span, something general manager Jason Licht even addressed when he told ESPN's Dan Graziano that "there's no guarantees that he's going to be here. And he knows that."
The Bucs are preparing for life without the two-time Pro Bowler, who was second only to Adrian Peterson two years ago in total rushing yards. That's why Jacquizz Rodgers is getting more first-team reps than he might normally.
Martin understands that he has to make an especially good impression right now. There's always the possibility that Rodgers -- whom teammates have praised for exceptional vision and toughness and coaches love for his versatility -- could win the job.
Martin put the work in this offseason, showing up to camp in his best shape since Licht became GM.
He cut carbs from his diet whenever possible -- the Chinese food part was especially painful -- and dropping 2 percent body fat, but still maintaining his 223-pound playing weight. Rodgers has come to camp looking especially strong too, dropping about six pounds from his already-chiseled frame.
"I've got a chip on my shoulder," Martin said. "I just went out for the offseason; I just worked out, worked my butt off. I know it's going to be a big year for us. ... I've got a lot to owe to this team, and I can't wait to get back out there."