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Jason Licht: Doug Martin looks as good as I've seen him

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After the first two days of the 2017 NFL Draft, general manager Jason Licht made it clear that suspended running back Doug Martin is back in the organization's good graces.

Tampa Bay didn't address the backfield until taking a flier on Jeremy McNichols of Boise State in the fifth round.

At this point, Licht is hoping that Martin can recapture 2015 All-Pro form as the team's lead back.

Appearing on Tuesday's edition of Good Morning Football, Licht raved about Martin's turnaround this offseason, stating that the 28-year-old tailback has been "outstanding" both mentally and physically.

"Doug has looked as good as I've seen him," Licht added.

Licht isn't alone in his newfound optimism.

"Doug has looked awesome the past couple of weeks," tight end Cameron Brate recently told PewterReport.com. "He's been dominating the conditioning drills. That's not something you can fake -- those conditioning drills. You have either been putting in the work or you haven't.

"Just to see him in good spirits -- physically he looks awesome -- all of the guys on the team love Doug. We're excited to see him back. He's happy and he's healthy. We're all excited for him."

Martin's suspension will cost him the first three games of the 2017 season, which will leave the Bucs with a ground attack by committee in September.

Licht singled out Jacquizz Rodgers as a player who "answered the bell" when Martin was sidelined by a hamstring injury early last season. The GM also expects passing-down specialist Charles Sims to be healthy for training camp after suffering a torn pectoral muscle in late December.

As deep as Tampa Bay's backfield appears, however, Martin is ticketed for a starring role after Licht passed on signing Adrian Peterson or drafting an early-round replacement such as Dalvin Cook.

"We like to have options," Licht emphasized, "and one of those options we like having him with us right now is the guy that was the second-leading rusher in 2015, Doug Martin."

With the additions of impact talents such as veteran deep threat DeSean Jackson, first-round tight end O.J. Howard and third-round receiver Chris Godwin, the Buccaneers are a trendy playoff pick this year.

If they're going to overtake the Falcons and Panthers in the NFC South, though, Martin's resurgence as a tackle-breaking foundation back is perhaps the most crucial variable.

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