Doug Martin is officially back.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced Monday they activated the running back for Week 5. Martin served the final three games of a four-game suspension to open the season.
The team waived tight end Alan Cross to make room for Martin on the active roster.
During offseason and preseason work, Martin looked like a rejuvenated runner, closer to the 1,400-yard back we saw in 2015, than the disappointing rusher of 2016.
Tampa can certainly use a spry Martin after opening the season on a pass-happy pace. Jameis Winston has attempted 30, 40, and 38 passes in three games to open the season, to mixed results.
The Bucs currently rank 26th in the NFL in rushing yards per game at 84.7. Lead tailback Jacquizz Rodgers earned his best performance of the season in Sunday’s win over the New York Giants, generating 83 yards on 16 carries, but is averaging just 4.1 yards per tote in few opportunities this season.
Throughout the offseason, the Bucs insisted Martin would not be handed the starting job when he returned to the lineup. With coach Dirk Koetter desiring a more balanced offense, however, we expect Martin to play a significant role off the bat, starting with Thursday night’s matchup against the New England Patriots.