The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hope to get a boost on offense this Sunday when they welcome back Runningback Doug Martin to the lineup. Martin had been sidelined for almost the entire first half of this season due to a hamstring injury suffered in week 2 against the Arizona Cardinals. His status was listed on this week’s injury report as questionable since his recovery was a day-to-day process, but Buccaneers’ head coach Dirk Koetter says he’ll be cleared to play by this Sunday’s game. Filling in for Martin had been Mike James and Peyton Barber, the latter of which had led the team in rushing last week in their loss to Atlanta.
The Buccaneers enter this week’s game at 3-5, tied for third in the NFC South with the Carolina Panthers and facing a 2-6 Chicago Bears team that is fourth in the NFC North. The offense was not the biggest issue in last week’s 48-23 loss to Atlanta, as their defense surrendered a net of 461 yards and 43 points, but still their offense overall only managed 70 rush yards while quarterback Jameis Winston dropped back 48 times. Thus far on the year, the Buccaneers have averaged 108 rush yards per game, good for 16th in the league, while the Bears have averaged about 96, good for 24th in the league.
Doug Martin adds quite a bit of power to a running game that despite having some decent statistics, has lacked the potency that Martin has provided over the last few years. Martin finished the 2015 season 2nd in total rushing yards with 1,402, surpassed only by Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson, a huge step forward from two setback seasons in 2013 and 2014. Starting this Sunday he’ll look to get back to last year’s form against a Chicago Bears defense that has given up about 100 rush yards per game, and is ranked 12th overall against the run. The Bears themselves are coming off a big upset win against a stingy Minnesota Vikings defense, against whom they rushed for 158 yards as a team.