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Buccaneers hope Doug Martin can return next month


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have legitimate optimism that Doug Martin has not played his final down of the 2013 season.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport, citing a team source, reported on NFL Network's "Around The League Live" that the Bucs have put a target return date of Nov. 11 for their star running back, who suffered a torn labrum in Week 7's 31-23 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

The Bucs play just one game in 18 days after Thursday's matchup against the Carolina Panthers. Martin will use that time to strengthen his shoulder. If he experiences a setback, the Bucs will shut him down for the season.

NFL Media's Alex Flanagan reported during the first half of the Bucs' 31-13 loss on NFL Network's "Thursday Night Football" that former Buccaneers safety John Lynch played through a very similar injury one year in Tampa and made the Pro Bowl that season. The Bucs would like Martin to attempt to play through his injury and used Lynch as an example, sources close to the situation told Flanagan.

Flanagan reported that Dr. James Andrews will assess if Martin can further damage his shoulder by playing, and that ultimately will decide if he can come back.

Martin will be out against the Panthers and likely will miss Week 9's game against the Seattle Seahawks. In Week 10, the Bucs will meet the Miami Dolphins on "Monday Night Football." The team hopes that's when Martin will be back in the backfield.

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