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Doug Martin ahead of LeGarrette Blount at Bucs camp

Doug Martin

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin, center, evades the pack and runs for several during NFL football training camp, Friday, July 27, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)


Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano said he isn’t playing favorites in the tailback battle between incumbent starter LeGarrette Blount and rookie Doug Martin.

That might be the case, but the first few days of Bucs practice paint a picture that has Martin sitting in the driver’s seat. Tom Krasniqi of WDAE calls Martin “clearly the top dog so far” and several other Bucs beat reporters have painted a similar picture this weekend. Martin got the first snaps at the first practice of training camp and has continued to be in front of Blount through Sunday’s first padded practice.

It’s not much of a surprise given Martin’s superior versatility. He’s a more accomplished pass receiver than Blount and he has also earned high marks for his work as a pass blocker. Even if the Bucs hadn’t traded back into the first round to get him, that skill set will allow the offense to be more flexible and force defenses to focus on a wider range of options than they will when Blount is in the game.

There’s still a role for Blount under such conditions, obviously, but it appears it will be a lesser one than he played in 2011. Barring an injury or other problem that has yet to rear its head, the tailback job in Tampa looks like it is Martin’s to lose.