Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Leaner Doug Martin Thriving in Competition

The competition at running back is bringing out the best in Doug Martin.

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Doug Martin is one of several running backs vying for playing time in the Buccaneers' backfield this season. Martin, Charles Sims and Bobby Rainey all recorded 65 or more carries in 2014 and Dominique Brown, an undrafted free agent, has looked sharp during OTAs. But the competition isn't weighing on Martin. Instead, it's bringing out the best in him.

"Competition out here helps us all," Martin said in a one-on-one with Buccaneers.com Team Insider Casey Phililps on Thursday. "If you don't have anybody that's pushing you then who's going to make you better? We have Bobby (Rainey), Mike (Jenkins), Dominique (Brown) the rookie, and all of the other running backs – Charles Sims. Everybody's pushing each other and we're all going to be better because of it."

HIGHLIGHTS: FINAL OTA PRACTICE

If you think Martin looks like he's lost a few pounds since last season, you're half right. Martin is technically the same weight as last year, around 220, 225. But he returned to the Buccaneers' training facilities having shed some body fat, and re-gained the weight in muscle.

Check out photos of the last day of OTA practices at One Buccaneer Place.

"What you're not seeing that makes me look a little slimmer is my body fat," Martin said. "I got my body fat down by like four or five percent so I'm in great shape. I feel good and I'm ready to go."

Martin could have a few new faces blocking for him after the Bucs' selected tackle Donovan Smith and guard Ali Marpet in this year's draft. Although the Bucs have only gone through non-contact OTA practices, he can already see improvement along the offensive line.

"They're doing pretty good," Martin said. "There's more communication between the line. We're more gelled than we were last year. I feel like it's going to be a good season for us and the line's doing a good job proving that… or (are) going to prove that."

Over the course of the past three seasons, Martin has been the Bucs' most productive runner. He ran for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2012 en-route to his first Pro Bowl nomination. He was the Bucs' leading rusher last year and split carries almost evenly with Rainey in 2013.

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