“My approach is, basically, I’m a rookie again,” Martin said Tuesday, via the San Francisco Chronicle. “And I’ve got to prove to the team, to the players, the coaches, that I can be useful on this team. Like I said, just act like a rookie, and go out there and play, play the game that I love.”
Martin owns one of the most up-and-down careers in the NFL. After bursting on the scene as a rookie, compiling 1,454 yards, the running back struggled through two injury-plagued seasons, not reaching the 500-yard mark. He bounced back in 2015 with a 1,402-yard output to earn a new contract. Since then, Martin has been an inefficient runner. He’s averaged 2.9 yards per attempt and gained fewer than 425 yards each year in addition to serving a four-game suspension. He was cut earlier this offseason.
Could Martin have a career renaissance in Oakland?
“Doug has really jumped out in this camp with his quickness, his ability to pick up the offense and what we’ve given him,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said Tuesday. “He’s really got a fresh set of legs. And that’s probably been the most encouraging thing when you watch him run out here in drills that we’ve run and the strength and conditioning stuff.”
Olsen’s comments echo the news from beat reporters at practice, who have noticed Martin’s burst during organized team activities. During his struggles, Martin lacked pop and couldn’t break tackles. With fewer than 145 carries on his legs each of the past two years, a rebirth would not be unheard of for the 29-year-old.
“He’s been one of the hardest workers since we got here in Phase 1, hands down,” quarterback Derek Carr said of Martin, via the team’s official website. “He’s been one of the guys out there that just every day sticks out doing something where you see why he’s a Pro Bowler. I guess you don’t see why he got let go, but you’re thankful that we have him.”
Martin must continue to impress to lock down a roster spot and push for carries behind Marshawn Lynch. A Beast Mode-Martin backfield combo would make for an interesting dynamic in Jon Gruden’s offense. First, Martin must maintain that re-found burst and make the team.
“I just want to play for the Raiders and I want the Raiders to be successful,” Martin said. “Playing for my hometown and playing for my family that’s out here. Just show everybody that I can bounce back.”