Updated: March 30, 2014, 9:29 AM ET
ESPN.com news services
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin says he feels “great” and expects to be cleared to fully return from the shoulder injury that derailed his 2013 season.
Martin told the Tampa Bay Times that he is almost fully recovered from shoulder surgery and that he anticipates returning to full activity next week.
“I feel great. My arm is about to get cleared this week,” Martin told the Times. “I’m just getting my strength back. It’s been too long since I’ve been out of the game.”
Martin sustained the season-ending injury in Tampa Bay’s Week 7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, suffering a torn labrum in his left shoulder. The 25-year-old figures hopes to bounce back in 2014 under new coach Lovie Smith, who recently said he plans to use Martin as the lead back in a rotation.
“I think you have to have a bell cow,” Smith said during the NFL owners meeting earlier this week. “[Martin] is ours. At the running back position, there’s enough reps to go around. We want three guys we feel comfortable with.
“Two will play, but it’s not a rotation that where every series we’re going to have a different guy in there. We’ll have a starter, then we’ll have a backup that will give him quality backup minutes.”
The Buccaneers got solid production out of running backs Mike James and Bobby Rainey during Martin’s absence last season.
Martin was one of the NFL’s top rookies in 2012, rushing for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns. He ran for 456 yards and one touchdown in six games last season.
ESPN.com Buccaneers reporter Pat Yasinskas contributed to this report.