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Doug Martin has 'pep in his step' in contract year

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Doug Martin looks like a rejuvenated version of the running back who took the NFL by storm in 2012.

After two dismal seasons, he has Buccaneers offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter to thank for ensuring yet another chance at the starting gig in Tampa Bay.

Every game, all season

A slimmer, more explosive Martin has turned heads in preseason. Koetter says he's seeing exactly what he expected.

"To me, that's the Doug Martin I know," Koetter said Wednesday. "He's been that way since Day One. One of our coaches said it the other night in a meeting. What Doug did the other night in the game ... that's how Doug's been practicing every day. So that was not surprising that he did that. He's been practicing like that. Doug definitely has a pep in his step and a smile on his face.... Contract year. We've all been there."

In Monday night's romp over the Cincinnati Bengals, Martin slashed through defenders tearing off six rushes for 50 yards -- 9.8 per clip -- including a flabbergasting 30-yarder, when he squeezed through multiple defenders to gallop towards the end zone.

The parallels between Martin and Mark Ingram last year are distinct. Ingram entered his contract year with the Saints having never displayed consistent flashes after being a first-round pick and dealing with injuries. Ingram then burst out showing power and a decisive one-cut action, bullying opponents.

Through two preseason games, Martin looks more and more like that explosive back we saw as a rookie. Slimming down this offseason, the 26-year-old back is hitting holes hard. His vision and pint-sized physicality allow him to squeeze through tiny holes in the defense and come out the other side.

After two years disappointing years, Martin is primed to bounce back.

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