Big plans for Bucs RB Doug Martin

TAMPA, Fla. -- There are conspiracy theorists out there that think Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith isn't a big fan of running back Doug Martin.

Smith shot that down -- again -- after the first day of minicamp practice.

"That chatter, it’s that baseball chatter before a guy gets to bat -- 'Hey batter, batter, swing.' Don’t pay any attention to that," Smith said with a laugh. “Doug’s a good football player. He knows that. You don’t see Doug complaining. He knows what our plans are for him."

The talk has come because Smith and Jeff Tedford repeatedly have said they expect to play multiple running backs. They plan to take advantage of their depth, which includes Mike James, Bobby Rainey, Jeff Demps and rookie Charles Sims.

"If that chatter starts, it should start with me," Smith said. "You don’t hear that from me. What I’ve said is that I like Doug a lot. Doug’s a good football player. But, everywhere I've ever been, if you look at my history, we played more than one running back. We had a great running back (in Chicago) in Thomas Jones and we drafted Cedric Benson and played them both. One running back just can't make it through the season."

I'm taking Smith at his word. Martin’s going to be the feature back, but the Bucs are going to be careful not to wear him out.