This time a year ago, Doug Martin was getting ready for his first Senior Bowl practice. This week, he’ll be preparing to take the field with the greatest players in the NFL.
Martin, the Buccaneers’ record-breaking rookie running back, is headed to the Pro Bowl. The official announcement of this fact may have to wait a few hours, but it’s a simple matter of connecting the dots. Martin was named the first alternate to the NFC Pro Bowl squad at running back this year, and one of the three all-star selections in front of him, San Francisco’s Frank Gore, is now headed to New Orleans for the Super Bowl. Gore will be unavailable for the NFL’s all-star game, so Martin will take his place.
UPDATE: The NFL has already officially informed the Buccaneers that Martin is replacing Gore in the Pro Bowl.
Fortunately for the former Boise State star, he’ll have several Buccaneer teammates on hand to help him get acclimated to the Pro Bowl scene in Honolulu. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and wide receiver Vincent Jackson will also be playing for the NFC, and while McCoy is a first-time all-star Jackson has made the trip two times before.
Martin’s Pro Bowl selection is another indication that the Buccaneers’ offense is awash in potential. The 2012 team already broke the franchise single-season records for yards and points gained, and with Pro Bowl offensive linemen Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks returning from injured reserve in 2013 that could just be the beginning. After all, Jackson and Martin will be the first WR-RB pair ever to make the Pro Bowl in the same season for the Buccaneers.
Martin is the third rookie in team history to make the Pro Bowl, all three of which have been running backs. Warrick Dunn went straight from the draft to the all-star game in 1997, as did Clifton Smith in 2008, though Smith made it as a kick returner. Martin will be one of just three rookies in this year’s Pro Bowl, joining Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III and Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh (Griffin will not play in the game due to injury).