Doug Martin: Why Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rookie Is the Next Ray Rice

Thomas GaliciaContributor IIOctober 26, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 25:  Doug Martin #22 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers outruns Harrison Smith #22 of the Minnesota Vikings for a gain at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on October 25, 2012 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Normally, it's a bit unfair to make comparisons between a rookie and a veteran, but in this case, you will find an applicable one between Buccaneers rookie Doug Martin and Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice.

The comparison doesn't just work when you see the two players on the field, but it's also evident when you consider each running back's history.

Ray Rice is a product of Rutgers University, recruited by former Scarlet Knights head coach and current Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano. While at Rutgers from 2005 to 2007, Rice ran for 4,926 yards on 910 attempts for 5.4 yard-per-carry average and 49 touchdowns.

Rice was also important in the passing game, nabbing 37 receptions for 334 yards and a touchdown.

All of this foreshadowed what we have seen in Baltimore since Rice was drafted in 2008. The Ravens offense should run through Rice (despite what offensive coordinator Cam Cameron seems to think, based on his play-calling), and when it does, that offense is capable of beating anyone.

Martin is a first-round pick who also had a very productive college career. From 2008 to 2011, he rushed for 3,431 yards and 43 touchdowns on 617 carries, an average of 5.6 yards per carry. He was also effective for Boise State as a receiver out of the backfield, catching the ball 67 times for 715 yards and four touchdowns.

With the Buccaneers, Martin has been used in a similar way, not only with the way Schiano used Rice in Rutgers, but also how Rice has been (and should be) used in Baltimore.

His two-touchdown, 214-total-yard game against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 8 will be looked at as a breakout game. But Martin has been doing well as the Buccaneers running back for the entire season, garnering 129 carries for 543 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. As a receiver, Martin has also been valuable, with 16 catches for 224 yards and a touchdown.

The Buccaneers will continue to use Martin in this way as a dual-purpose back. He has shown great hands thus far; he hasn't turned the ball over yet, and he fights for every last yard he can gain. The better he plays, the more likely the Bucs are to come away with the victory, which proves how crucial he is to their success.

Martin is the second-most important player on the Buccaneers after quarterback Josh Freeman. Ray Rice is Baltimore's second-most important player after Joe Flacco. Both must play well for their teams to win.