Lovie Smith: Doug Martin is Bucs' lead running back

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  • By Around the NFL staff
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Doug Martin's revival has been one of the most surprising developments of the offseason. It's a story that will have a chance to continue into the regular season.

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Coach Lovie Smith confirmed what had grown obvious over the last three months: Martin is the lead back of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"We talked about being able to establish the run. Doug will be the lead guy doing that, so it's very important that we open up some holes and let him do his thing," Smith said via the Tampa Bay Times.

Martin's time in Tampa looked just about over last season as he was outperformed by Bobby Rainey. The team drafted Charles Sims in the third round in 2013, ostensibly to replace him. But Martin is one of the most fascinating make-or-break players to watch this season because new coordinator Dirk Koetter gave him a career lifeline.

It's rare to see a player with a similar career arc to Martin. He was a star as a rookie, and has looked like a player that barely belongs in the league since. There has been no logical explanation to Martin's downturn; he simply hasn't looked like he's had any juice.

Perhaps aware that he was running out of chances, Martin stepped up with a huge offseason. The Buccaneers have responded by handing Martin the job just a few days into training camp. That gives some surprising clarity to any fantasy owners out there that want to take a chance on a Martin bounceback season just like the Bucs are. 

The latest Around The NFL Podcast debates whose stock is up and whose stock is down after the first week of training camp.

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