Lovie Smith: Doug Martin is feature back

TAMPA, Fla. -- After the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted running back Charles Sims in the third round, the conspiracy theories started to fly about Doug Martin.

Some speculated he was on the trading block. Others said his skills weren’t being embraced by the new coaching staff.

Forget all that. Coach Lovie Smith emphatically said during Friday’s rookie camp that Martin is his feature back.

"Doug’s our starting tailback," Smith said. "He’s on most of the billboards around here. He’s an All-Pro running back. There’s nothing to dislike about Doug Martin. At the same time, we want Doug around for many years. By that, you need to have some other guys. He can’t carry it every second of the way. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. We couldn’t be more pleased with him."

The Bucs have plenty of depth with Sims, Mike James and Bobby Rainey and it sounds like they plan to use it. That is a good thing.

Previous coach Greg Schiano wasn’t a big believer in rotating his ball carriers. That is something Smith has said he wants to do.

It's a smart move. Martin is a strong runner, but the pace Schiano had him on wasn’t conducive to keeping Martin fresh. Smith’s approach is better, because splitting some of the carries will prevent Martin from getting worn out.