Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin and G Logan Mankins left Sunday's season-opening loss to the Carolina Panthers with injuries, as their teammates saw a fourth quarter rally fall just short in week 1.
With week 2 preparations set to get underway in earnest, it appears there is a chance that the injured duo could be back on the field in time for Sunday's home matchup against the St. Louis Rams. Coach Lovie Smith addressed Doug Martin's status in a Tuesday radio interview, while also hinting that Logan Mankins, acquired last month in a trade with the New England Patriots, could be ready to go against the Rams.
Additionally, Smith hinted that Martin's absence for much of the second half of last Sunday's loss may have been more of a coach's decision than an injury-induced reason. Martin headed to the locker room after gaining just 9 yards on 9 rushing attempts, having sustained an injury to his lower left leg after being rolled up on.
Bobby Rainey entered the game and performed well in Martin's stead, handling every down duties and catching a fourth quarter touchdown which brought Tampa within striking distance after the offense had struggled to gain any semblance of a rhythm for much of the afternoon. Speaking Tuesday, Smith touched on Doug Martin's injury and subsequent disappearing act from Sunday's game, suggesting that his back could have returned to action if needed.
“Doug did go down with a little minor injury there, so we had to make a change, and from there he was able to come back and he was ready to go,” Smith told Total Access on WDAE-AM 620. “Bobby had come and had given us a little bit of life, and as I’ve mentioned we want to play more than one running back throughout. So it was just a perfect time to keep both of them involved.” Will Doug Martin be back in action this weekend?
Martin, himself, said after Sunday's game that he was awaiting further information in regards to his injury, while sporting a heavy wrap on his leg. Any further news on the running back's status will likely emerge when the Bucs return to the practice field on Wednesday, but if he were to miss any additional time, the team looks prepared to call upon Rainey and Mike James. It will be interesting to see if Martin's name appears on this week's injury report, and how much, if at all, he is limited in practices.
Mankins, meanwhile, suffered a hyperextended knee during the loss last Sunday. Mankins' injury and exit was felt immediately, as the Bucs offense and run game, in particular, struggled to get off the ground floor throughout most of the game. The All-Pro was brought in via trade to help solidify an offensive line that looked shaky throughout the preseason.
Smith did hint that Mankins could be back in action for week 2 if he was feeling good enough.
"We have 10 guys on our 53-man roster on our offensive line. We'll probably choose from that group if Logan can't play," Smith said. "But Logan has been injured before. He feels like he'll be able to go."
An instant return by Mankins would be a phenomenal boost to the Buccaneers' offense as a whole. They will face a feisty Rams defensive front which will be smarting after their week 1 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Mankins excels as a run blocker, and his ability to open holes will be crucial to Tampa establishing the run and creating balance to help QB Josh McCown and the offense from having to rely on their aerial attack to move the chains.
Offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford, who did not call plays in week 1 following a medical procedure, is expected to return to his normal duties Sunday. Tedford has yet to call a competitive NFL game, but handled play-calling duties throughout his tenure as the head coach at Cal-Berkley.
"We were really kind of gearing toward him being ready this week," Smith said. "He's in the office. He was in early this morning, full time, ready to go, leading the meetings. Hopefully we're back on track."