Doug Martin, the Muscle Hamster?

Doug MartinBuccaneers running back Doug Martin is having a great rookie season. Now he wishes he could get a great nickname.

Instead, Martin is saddled with “Muscle Hamster,” the ridiculous nickname that some of his offensive linemen at Boise State gave him. Martin said on NFL AM that the nickname was given to him affectionately by teammates who were impressed by how much he could lift, considering his small stature. But he said he wishes they had come up with something better.

“It has to be the worst nickname ever,” Martin said. “I can’t shake it. It started in college, started back in Boise, with our linemen. I have a lot of bigger friends, and they’d call me the Muscle Hamster because of how much I could lift in the weight room.”

The 5-foot-9, 215-pound Martin bench pressed 225 pounds 28 times at this year’s Scouting Combine, tied for the best mark among all the running backs. So Muscle Hamster may be fitting. Read more…

Doug Martin breaks out, fantasy players rejoice

Doug MartinFor a rookie, there’s nothing like a nationally televised game to create an opportunity for attention.  A rookie who seizes that chance suddenly earns the name recognition of a proven veteran.

Buccaneers running back Doug Martin did just that on Thursday night.

Martin rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown, and he added 79 through the air in a 36-17 win over the Vikings in Minnesota.  The first-round pick’s 64-yard sprint with a screen pass on the first drive of the third quarter extended a 10-point lead to 27-10, and the Vikings never got within 13 after that — despite the foolish decision of Bucs left tackle Donald Penn to enrage defensive end Jared Allen by ripping off his helmet and putting a gash on the bridge of his nose.

The momentum was temporary, with a third-down sack on the next play from Allen generating a din that disappeared quickly once the Vikings got the ball back.  The team simply doesn’t have much on offense beyond Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin, and life for the 5-3 team is about to get a lot more difficult.  Read more…

Greg Schiano and the Buccaneers long for the days of replacement refs

I saw two things this Sunday that I can’t say I’ve ever seen before, three if you consider the fact that the Buccaneers had a home game televised.

On a gorgeous, Florida, Sunday afternoon, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had their hands full against perhaps the greatest 1-4 team in NFL history: the New Orleans Saints.  The Saints have had their fair share of issues lately, with Spygate, suspensions and what most impartial observers believe to be Roger Goodell’s total bumbling of his own judiciary process.

That being said, Goodell and the league made it up to them on Sunday, with a little help from Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t mean to stand here on my homer soapbox and say the Buccaneers were robbed had it not been for this call or that but… the Buccaneers fell victim to two calls in particular, one which led to a Saints touchdown and another that prevented a Bucs touchdown from happening.  Such was the difference in the game.  In a seven point contest, the number of points which the Bucs are losing most of their games this season, these things matter.

Thing I’ve Never Seen Before #1:  In the fourth quarter of a highly competitive contest, leading 28-21, New Orleans lined up for a 51-yard field goal after the Buccaneers had stopped them defensively.  Tampa’s special teams lined up yet shifted their position in an effort to distract the snap.  All of a sudden, whistles were blown and flags were thrown.

Unsportsmanlike conduct called on the Buccaneers, pre-snap, before the ball was even hiked.  The refs penalized Tampa Bay fifteen yards, giving the Saints back the ball and the inevitable, momentous touchdown.

I’ve been watching football for a while now.  Most unsportsmanlike penalties occur either during or after a play and are generally the result of excessive celebration or taunting which, in the NFL, has to be pretty flagrant considering what players do after touchdowns these days.  According to Schiano, he used that very same defensive shift against the Redskins earlier this season and a penalty was NOT called but according to Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1i, a team is not allowed to use “acts or words designed to disconcert an offensive team at the snap.”  Now either the refs were doing their job a little too well or this is a rule that Schiano needs to become more familiar with.  Ah, the joys of being a rookie head coach in the NFL.  If no penalty is called, there are no seven points for the Saints, perhaps not even three considering the distance of the field goal attempt. Read more…

NFL Week 3: The week’s best bets

Tony RomoThis should be the week that trends begin to take shape, separating the future contenders from the pretenders. Did you know that five teams remain undefeated while six are winless? And that one team has given just 17 points in their two games while another holds the league high at 79? We went a disappointing 3-2 last week bringing our season total to 7-3. Here’s this weeks picks:

*Home team in CAPS

COWBOYS over the Buccaneers- Notwithstanding Dallas’ loss to the Seahawks last week, (a lot of teams have a difficult time in Seattle with that crowd noise), we believe that the ‘Boys home opener will result in their second win of the season. The Bucs exposed their weak defense last week when they gave up over 600 yards to the N.Y. Giants. Tampa Bay simply does not have the firepower to keep up with Dallas who would like to dispose of the Bucs before welcoming the Bears next Monday Night.

BROWNS over the Bills- Cleveland is one of the best or at least the most unluckiest 0-2 teams in the league losing both their games by a total of eight points. If you remember thanks to some late heroics, the Eagles pulled out a one point victory over the Browns who showed they can play some D. Last week, QB Brandon Weeden and No. 1 pick RB Trent Richardson started to exhibit their talent and we got a taste of what they are capable of doing. Still not impressed with Buffalo although Cleveland will see plenty of C.J. Spiller this Sunday. If he can be contained the way LeSean McCoy was, than Cleveland should garner their first win of the season. Read more…

NFC preseason power rankings


Al Bello/Getty Images

As the end of the NFL preseason is quickly approaching, so to is the beginning of the 2012 NFL regular season. As there is one week left of preseason football, we are less than 10 days away from the start of the 2012 NFL season. I like to name this period “Week Zero”, as these power rankings are a basic opinion of how I believe the 2012 NFL season will pan out.

In the NFC specifically, there are a lot of teams to like, as picking the six best teams was harder than I imagined. In my opinion, the top 12 teams in these power rankings are all legitimate playoff contenders right now. For various reasons though, some teams are better now, while some teams may be better next year or the year afterward. Nevertheless, here are the Week Zero NFC Power Rankings.


The Vikings are young, but the question of Adrian Peterson’s health, Christian Ponder’s potential, and the defensive secondaries’ deficiencies gives the Vikings a whole heap of trouble in an NFC North division which features quarterbacks Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford, and Aaron Rodgers.

Projection: 3-13


The acquisitions of wide receiver Vincent Jackson and All-Pro offensive guard Carl Nicks were great, and new head coach Greg Schiano is installing discipline into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but only little progress will be made in 2012 as Schiano will need a couple of seasons to get the Buccaneers back on track.

Projection: 4-12  Read More…


Josh Freeman continues to struggle

Patriots Buccaneers Football

Quarterback Josh Freeman got off to a slow start in the Bucs’ first two preseason games, and he wasn’t any better Friday night against the Patriots.

Continuing to look uncomfortable in new coördinator Mike Sullivan’s offense, Freeman completed 10-of-19 passes for 102 yards. He has leaned heavily on $55 million wideout Vincent Jackson throughout August, but otherwise relied mostly on checkdowns for his completions and failed to deliver the football accurately to receivers. Freeman is averaging under five yards per pass attempt this preseason, which is a pretty pathetic clip.

After a promising first season as a starter in 2010, Freeman took a big step back in 2011. He’s now adjusting to a new system and clearly experiencing growing pains.

Through three preseason games, Freeman is 18-of-34 passing for 164 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions. Along with the rest of Tampa Bay’s first-teamers, Freeman doesn’t figure to play much in the exhibition finale. Read more from TTR.


2012 NFL player props: Top 10 value picks

calvin johnson

These picks are far from locks but if you are looking for value then you’re in the right spot.

10. 2012 NFL MVP – Odds to Win | Arian Foster 15/1

I think the Texans will be a team to watch this year; they have a great defense and Andre Johnson is healthy, for now. Arian Foster is arguably the most dynamic running back in football and if he ends up putting up the numbers like he did in 2010 (2,220 total yards and 12 total TDS) the Texans may very well make the playoffs, and Foster the MVP.

9. Who will lead the league in Receiving Yards? | Brandon Marshall 16/1

He’s not the number one value pick for this category, but he has great potential and even better odds. In his last season playing with Jay Cutler (2008) Marshall recorded 104 catches and 1,265 yards, good for 3rd and 7th respectively. I expect Marshall to have a huge year and it could earn you some nice green.

8. Offensive Rookie of the Year – Odds to Win | Doug Martin 14/1

While Andrew Luck (9/4) and Robert Griffin III (9/2) are the obvious favorites for the oddsmakers, Martin may very well be the one who has the most positive impact. Rookie running backs are often the ones to make the transition from college to pro look the most seamless, and as of now it appears Martin will get the starting job.

7. Who will lead the league in Receiving Yards? | Roddy White 18/1

With Julio Jones around Roddy White’s chances of winning this title are decreasing every year. White finished 2nd in 2010 and 8th last season, so while oddsmakers have this about right, the potential is certainly there. Without being able to double-team Roddy opposing defenses are going to give Matt Ryan’s number one plenty of opportunities this season.

6. Who will lead the league in Passing Yards? | Aaron Rodgers 11/2

Believe it or not Rodgers is listed behind Brees (9/2) and Brady (19/4) as far as potential for throwing the most passing yards. The Packers’ quarterback and fantasy football stud has never led the league in passing and this leads me to believe this is going to be his year. Read more here…

TTR’s Game Changers – NFC South


Christian Petersen / Getty Images

Join us as TTR Game Changers takes a tour through all 32 teams, identifying one player from every squad that I believe has a great chance of being a game changer in 2012.  To see the full series click here.

Atlanta Falcons – I believe that this year the Atlanta Falcons take the crown of the NFC South away from the Saints, even if it is only for this season. Atlanta will be putting the reigns of the offense in Matt Ryan’s hands more than ever this season and it could produce some real fireworks. Matt Ryan was a Top 10 quarterback in most major statistical categories in 2011, and he will have more weapons to work with in 2012. While some of those weapons are past their prime, two young players on their offense have not even reached their prime yet. I expect Jacquizz Rodgers to make a significant impact this season, as people will realize that he is a capable inside runner as well as a scat back. But it will be the continued development of Julio Jones that will make this team a scary offense. Jones’ main goal will be to take care of his body so he can play in all 16 games, if he does expect him to have Pro Bowl numbers this season, in only his second year as a pro. Roddy White may garner more targets and receptions, but it will be Jones that is the more dynamic player in the ATL.  Read More…

2012 NFL season: The top 10 team prop bets

Adrian Peterson 2012

After an extremely exciting 2011 NFL season and less than respectable off-season for several teams, the 2012 pre-season is almost here. The smell of pigskin is in the air as training camps are in full swing and teams are getting their rosters together. Only two rookies remain unsigned – Justin Blackmon and Kendall Wright – and one has to believe that their agents are likely waiting for the other to sign their contracts.

Is there anything better than sitting back on Sunday’s and watching the NFL package while partaking in fantasy football and placing some friendly wagers on the games? To that, I say no! However, we must wait for these opportunities. That said, there are some team props out there that allow us to get the football juices flowing. The following is our Top 10 NFL Team Props.

10. Jacksonville Jaguars – 5

As mentioned, Justin Blackmon remains unsigned and the rookie wide out isn’t even close to the most impactful player that remains away from training camp. Maurice Jones-Drew has decided to sit out training camp in hopes of getting a new contract. Apparently the two sides are very far apart and Drew has already threatened to holdout into the season. Without the 2011 rushing leader on the field, the Jags will have an extremely ugly season.

Prediction: 3-13

9. Philadelphia Eagles – 10 ½

While I do expect a better year than last for the Eagles, there’s just no way they will reach 11 wins in 2012. While LeSean McCoy is a very talented back, and should be even better this year, he didn’t get much help in the offseason. The wide receiver corps is the same (and possibly worse) and the defense didn’t make any major upgrades.

Prediction: 9-7

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 6

This is my surprise pick for the 2012 season. Tampa Bay had a nice offseason; they added Vincent Jackson, Doug Martin (via draft), Mark Barron, Dallas Clark, and a few other high character and talented players. With the Saints having their offseason issues, the Panthers still rebuilding, and the Falcons realizing Matt Ryan isn’t anything special, the Bucs should be good for at least 2-3 more wins than last season (4-12). Read more here…

10 Fantasy Football rookies to consider drafting

The question of whether to steal precious picks away from more established players on draft day arises every year. They might have been college standouts but how will they perform on a professional level? Will they receive enough playing time? Will they live up to their expectations and in some cases, their hype? I don’t suggest that you base your team around them, but certainly there are several, that you may consider grabbing in the mid to later rounds.

1. Trent Richardson– RB-Browns- We begin with the obligatory and prohibitive favorite to be the first rookie off the boards in your draft. The Browns made Richardson their third overall pick for a reason. They needed a boost in their lackluster offense and this beast of a back has scouts saying that he is the best back to come out of college since Adrian Peterson! Trent will be the Browns’ every-down back and we think he should be the 10th to 15th RB selected in drafts. Barring injury, he will be a top-tier back by season’s end.

2. Doug Martin-RB-Buccaneers- Some scouts have compared the Boise State three-down back to Ray Rice, which is quite a compliment in and of itself! The Bucs O Line has improved given the signing of All-Pro guard Carl Nicks and because of LeGarrette Blount’s ineffectiveness last season, Martin is the overwhelming favorite to become the Bucs starter this year. Remember the Bucs traded up to land Martin in the first round so we can’t see them yielding the starting slot to Blount. We think he’ll be the 15-20th back selected in most drafts.

3. Robert Griffin III-QB-Redskins- Although I rarely, if ever draft a rookie QB, I did so last year when I corralled Cam Newton on a hunch for my QB2 slot. And that’s what you may want to consider doing with RGIII. He has a great arm and like Newton, will keep the ball often and therefore should put up some decent fantasy numbers for a rookie. With good protection we can see him scamper in for several TDs if passing options are limited in the Red Zone.  Clearly one to consider. Read more here…


Players fail Greg Schiano’s conditioning test

Greg Schiano

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers aren’t in the kind of shape coach Greg Schiano wants.

After his first training camp practice as the Bucs’ head coach, Schiano said several players failed his conditioning test, a series of 16 sprints of 110 yards with 45 seconds of rest between them.

“We have a minimum standard,” Schiano told the Tampa Bay Times. “And if it’s not met, then there are consequences.”

Schiano said training camp won’t be easy for the guys who didn’t pass.

“There will be a day when we show up here and on the first day and everybody passes,” Schiano said. “I wanted it to happen [Thursday]. We’ll get there. There’s no panic. We’ll get our guys into shape. But that makes training camp harder on those guys. There are additional things they have to do. There are conditioning things they have to do. And training camp’s hard enough.” Read more here…

Avoid drafting these 10 potential Fantasy Football busts

Photo: Marc Serota/Getty Images

1. Reggie Bush-RB- Dolphins- Whenever his name comes up, not long after, the word ‘injury’ undoubtedly follows. Although last season was an anomaly for Bush, he did manage to miss 20 games over the 2010 and 2009 seasons. He rushed for 1086 yards and 6 TDs last season but can you sleep at night without wondering if or when another injury could impede his season? Is his 6 TD’s worth that kind of worry?

2. Rashard Mendenhall-RB-Steelers- My rule of thumb when it comes to running backs coming off of ACL or MCL or any major injury is “let the buyer beware.” Mendenhall is such a back. He tore his right ACL in week 17 and more than likely will begin the season on the PUP list. He wasn’t having a great season before his injury and without knowing how viable a RB he’ll be this year, try to avoid drafting the sexy name, and seek another option instead.

3. Josh Freeman-QB-Buccaneers- Freeman and the next potential bust, Vincent Jackson almost go hand in hand. Mark Sanchez wasn’t the only QB to regress last year. Freeman managed to finish the season with the league’s second most picks, 22 against 16 TDs. Rookie sensation Doug Martin, (one of our Rookie’s to consider this season), will be making up the majority of an already lackluster offense in Tampa Bay; taking some of the pressure off of Freeman. Unfortunately when games get out of hand, he’ll be forced to air it out and that’s when INT’s begin to mount up. Stay clear.

Read the rest of the list here…

Aqib Talib could land huge payday in 2013

Aqib TalibCornerback, Aqib Talib, could land huge payday in 2013 and it should be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers paying him.
Adjusted Cap Number: $146.088 million
Cap Room Remaining: $15.74 million (will decrease by over $2 million once first-round draft pick Mark Barron signs
Best Bargain: As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ No. 1 receiver by default, Mike Williams has caught 130 passes for 1,735 yards and 14 touchdowns over his first two seasons in the NFL. A 2010 fourth-round draft pick, Williams has earned just over $1.3 million in his career thus far and is scheduled to earn $540,000 in base salary in 2012. The arrival of Vincent Jackson will move Williams to a more suitable role as a No. 2 receiver this season, a position where the 6-foot-2, 221-pounder can take advantage not going up against the other team’s top cornerback.
Potential Camp Casualty: The Buccaneers have moved away from signing bonuses, and instead are signing players to higher base salaries (often guaranteed), so players with high salaries always are candidates for release. Two such players on the Buccaneers are right tackle Jeremy Trueblood and linebacker Quincy Black. In the second season of a two-year contract, Trueblood triggered a $1 million escalator to his base salary and is scheduled to make $5.25 million, all of which could be wiped off the books. Black is due $5.5 million in base salary and would leave a cap imprint of just $250,000 from a workout bonus.
The problem with releasing Trueblood or Black lies in whom would replace them? Trueblood played in over 92 percent of the Buccaneers’ snaps last season and is solid in pass protection. The Buccaneers do not have much (or any) depth at the tackle position. Black was largely a two-down player in 2011, but with Geno Hayes moving on in free agency, Black is the team’s most experienced linebacker. With plenty of cap space, the Buccaneers unlikely are to be motivated by cap relief when shaping their 53-man roster this summer. Read more here…

Josh Freeman putting in the work, can he obtain the results?

Ron Turner, Josh Freeman

For the Buccaneers to make strides in 2012, it’s going to take more than new coach Greg Schiano’s discipline.

Mostly, they need Josh Freeman to go back to being the Josh Freeman of 2010.

Freeman regressed badly last year during the Bucs slide, but his new coaches say they can tell Freeman is determined to fix it.

“He has a burning desire to be good and to be great,” new Bucs quarterbacks coach Ron Turner said, via Mark Cook of  “And he doesn’t just talk about it. He comes in and does it. He has accepted the coaching that we have given him – the technique, the scheme, the fundamentals – all of things we are working on he has accepted and embraced them, and he is working extremely hard to improve.”

Turner and Schiano have been drilling fundamentals since they arrived, though that’s not solely because of Freeman.

“We have and not just because of Josh, but that’s because that’s what we believe in,” Turner said.  “I believe, and coach Schiano believes, and we believe as a staff, that you win with your techniques and fundamentals. First time I met him [Freeman], we started talking about his techniques his fundamentals and what I believe. Read more here…

What will the Bucs do with Eric Wright?

Eric Wright
As the Buccaneers try to turn the page on a recent past where things were sufficiently loose that even “wild child” Aqib Talib acknowledged they were “a little loose,” the Bucs now have their first real dilemma.
Well, not their first one.  They already had to make a decision on veteran tight end Kellen Winslow, for whom they gave up second-round and fifth-round picks in 2009 and to whom they paid $20 million over three seasons.  Sensing he wasn’t going to fit with the new regime, the Bucs handed him to the Seahawks for a tube of Pringles and a pair of used shoes.
With cornerback Eric Wright, the stake are considerably higher.  Less than four months after luring him from the Lions with a five-year, $38 million contract with $15.5 million guaranteed, Wright has been arrested for drunk driving.  And, so far, the Bucs have been silent regarding their reaction to the development.
If they issue the same-old perfunctory statement expressing concern and withholding further comment pending completion of the judicial proceedings and deferring to the league as to discipline, the Bucs will be missing a chance to show they are different. Read more here…