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Doug Martin could be running out of chances with Tampa Bay Buccaneers

By The Sports Xchange

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin. UPI /John Angelillo
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin, center, runs into the Carolina Panthers defense in the first half of an NFL football game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina on January 3, 2016. UPI/Nell Redmond .
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin (22) picks up short yardage against New Orleans Saints strong safety Kenny Vaccaro (32) during the third quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans September 20, 2015. Photo by AJ Sisco/UPI
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TAMPA, Fla. -- Doug Martin has to wonder if he has a future with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Coach Dirk Koetter, saying he's trying to put the Buccaneers in the best position to win games, stood by his decision to bench the Pro Bowl running back in Saturday's 31-24 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
In fact, it might happen again. Koetter refused to say whether Martin would be inactive for Sunday's regular-season finale against the Carolina Panthers.
"Right now, I'm not going to say anything about who's going to play this week because I don't want to do Carolina any favors as to who we're going to play," Koetter said. "As you said, last week we made a decision for the Saints game based on what I thought was best for our team that week. We"ll do the same thing this week.
"There's other decisions like that made every week, just this one was a little higher profile."
Backup Jacquizz Rodgers started in place of Martin and rushed for 63 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
Koetter's decision to bench Martin surprised the Buccaneers franchise running back who signed a 5-year, $35.75 million contact last March, including $15 million guaranteed.
Martin had rushed 119 times for 336 yards and 3 TDs. (2.8 avg.) since returning from a hamstring injury, and even though the Buccaneers went 5-1 during that stretch, the running game disappeared. However, the move to start Rodgers was surprising only because two weeks earlier, Koetter gave an impassioned defense of Martin.
"I'll stand by the defense. He is running hard and we do need to give him more lanes," Koetter said Monday. "But again, I made the decision that I thought Quizz would give us a better opportunity last week and Quizz did a good job when he was in there. People can say whatever they want about how Doug would've been, we don't know because he wasn't in there. I'm not trying to confuse anybody. That's not my intent. I'm trying to put the Bucs in the best position to win games."
Koetter said the problem is that the Buccaneers have a hard time making four running backs active in any game because of special teams. Rodgers, Charles Sims and rookie Peyton Barber all play on special teams or are backups on that unit. Martin is among a handful of non-quarterbacks who do not play any special teams.
"It's hard to get more than one feature back the main carries," Koetter said.
Koetter said the Buccaneers could use both Martin and Rodgers in the same offense, but making that adjustment in Week 17 would be difficult.
"If we were starting from scratch and we knew what we had, could we do that? Yeah, we could," Koetter said. "We could do anything, but that's not what we're doing."
But Martin, who was the NFL's second-leading rusher a year ago, is such a high profile player, but his future with the club appears uncertain.
"I'm not sure if it should cause it (speculation about Martin's future) or not," Koetter said. "I don't really have any good answer for you. That decision was made and I'll stand by it. And at some point this week, it will be apparent what our decision will be this week and I'll stand by that the same way."

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