TAMPA — Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano said Wednesday the recent success of rookie RB Mike James will have no bearing on the decision whether Doug Martin plays again this season.
Martin, who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2012, hasn’t been active since injuring his left shoulder at Atlanta Oct. 20. The Bucs said Martin will require surgery at some point, but they are not ruling out the possibility of his return to the field.
James, a sixth-round draft pick out of the University of Miami, gashed Seattle for 158 rushing yards in Sunday’s 27-24 overtime loss. For the season, James is averaging 4.6 yards on his 55 carries.
“Everything is looking good,’’ said Martin, who was held out of Wednesday’s practice as the Bucs prepare for Monday night’s matchup against Miami. “I’m doing everything the trainer’s telling me and it is improving. The pain’s decreasing and the range of motion is increasing.’’
Tampa Bay ran for a season-high 205 yards while nearly upsetting the Seahawks, who were 16-point favorites before rallying for their 12th consecutive home victory.
“(James’ success) doesn’t affect our urgency,’’ Schiano said. “It’s about having as many good players you can have on your 46-man game-day roster to help you win. It’s just a matter of dealing with Doug and our trainers and doctors — is he OK to play and is it in his best interest? What is best for everybody involved?’’
Whether he returns or is shelved for the final eight games, Martin knows he is facing surgery and a subsequent rehab program.
“There will be some butterflies at first,’’ Martin said of his impending operation, “but it’s what I need to do to continue my career.’’
Given an opportunity, James has run with power and determination.
“I’m very impressed with him,’’ offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said. “He’s a guy, early on, that showed an excellent attitude, very receptive to all the coaching that he’s received. There were instincts that he had, a feel that he had. I’m very, very impressed with him and we’re fortunate that he’s on our team.’’
It’s all about the rings for Warren Sapp Monday night
Sapp, the league’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1999, will become the fifth Buccaneer to enter the franchise’s Ring of Honor, joining Lee Roy Selmon, John McKay, Jimmie Giles and Paul Gruber.
The halftime tribute will also feature the formal presentation of Sapp’s Hall of Fame ring. Sapp, who played nine of his 13 NFL seasons in Tampa, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame at Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 3 in his first year of eligibility.
“It’s got a bust on the side of it,’’ said Sapp, who stopped by the Bucs facility on Wednesday. “I can’t wait to get a hold of it.’’
It was during the enshrinement ceremony held inside Canton’s Fawcett Stadium that members of the Class of 2013 unveiled the bronze busts that reside permanently in the Hall. On the eve of that ceremony, Sapp received his Hall of Fame Gold Jacket.
Running on empty
The Bucs placed rookie RB Jeff Demps on injured reserve and claimed S Bradley McDougald off waivers from Kansas City.
Demps, a former University of Florida standout, played two games with Tampa Bay and gained 128 all-purpose yards before suffering a groin injury. The speedster was acquired from the Patriots in an April trade involving running back LeGarrette Blount.
McDougald started 33 games at Kansas and signed with Kansas City as an undrafted free agent, playing one game for the unbeaten Chiefs.
Sapp isn’t necessarily surprised that suspended Dolphins G Richie Incognito is in the midst of a controversy with racial overtones.
When Sapp played for the Raiders, he got an earful from Incognito across the line of scrimmage as Oakland faced St. Louis.
“He (Incognito) called me the N-word,’’ Sapp said Wednesday. “I looked at him and said, ‘You want me to slap you in the mouth so they throw me out of the game. I’ve got a better plan. I’m going to assault your quarterback and then they’ll cut your butt.’ ”
The Bucs have been outscored 98-88 in the opening half and 92-36 in the second half and overtime. ...Thirty-four of Vincent Jackson’s 43 catches have resulted in a Buccaneers first down. ...Opposing quarterbacks have a 94.2 passer rating against Tampa Bay, slightly higher than last year’s 93.5 figure.