TAMPA, Fla. -- Doug Martin has three games left on a drug suspension and will serve them at the beginning of this coming season. But if the Buccaneers running back thinks he's automatically getting his starting job back once the suspension is over, he may be mistaken.
Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht told ESPN on Saturday that Martin was looking good so far in camp and that the team is happy with the way he's handling things, but his job might not be there for him come Week 4.
"It might not," Licht said. "Look, he has done everything we've asked him to do, and he looks reminiscent of 2015 when he was playing for his contract. He looks the same out there, mentally and physically. So he might be one of those guys that needs a carrot. And he's got a pretty big carrot in front of him right now, because there's no guarantees that he's going to be here. And he knows that. We've talked to him, and he's good with it. He goes, 'I understand.'"
The Buccaneers believe Jacquizz Rodgers can fill in well at running back while Martin is out, and they like Charles Sims as a third-down back who can help in the passing game. They also like what Peyton Barber offers as a bruising power back. And they're just now getting their first on-field look at rookie Jeremy McNichols, the fifth-round draft pick who missed the offseason program while recovering from post-combine shoulder surgery.
"So we like the committee that we have for the first three games, and we'll see what happens," Licht said. "You never know. Somebody can kind of jump out of there."
Martin remains confident and in good spirits as he participates in camp and makes plans to find a place to do his workouts for the first three weeks of the season, during which he's not allowed at the team facility. But he also hears the message the front office is sending him.
"Yeah, that's the reality of the situation," Martin told ESPN on Sunday. "That's what they told me. I can only control everything that I can control right now -- just show up to camp, play hard and show them that I can continue to be that starting back. And when the time comes when I come back, we'll see what happens. So it's still in the air. It's still in the air. I'm hopeful, and we'll see what happens. I just show them what I'm capable of doing, and that's 2012 Doug, that's 2015 Doug. And if I do that, everything else will fall into place. So we'll see."
Martin said he believes the Buccaneers will be able to run the ball without him, considering the options they have.
"We have a lot of great backs," Martin said. "We have a plethora of backs in the room right now, and I think we'll be very capable of running the rock while I'm absent. Everybody has their own little thing. Chuck can shake a guy in a phone booth, Quizz is smooth, Peyton's like the hard runner. There's a lot of guys with different talents in there, and I can't wait to see what they can do."