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Buccaneers' rookie RB Martin enjoys breakout game

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Buccaneers' rookie RB Martin enjoys breakout game

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) The Tampa Bay Buccaneers did more than shake off a nine-game losing streak at Minnesota on Thursday night.

They also put to rest questions about trading up into the first round last spring to draft 5-foot-9, 223-pound running back Doug Martin out of Boise State.

Martin broke out with a huge game in the Bucs' 36-19 victory against the Vikings, running for 135 yards and a touchdown and sprinting 64 yards with a screen pass for another touchdown. Martin was the largest of several impressive offensive factors in Tampa Bay's first victory on the road in more than a year.

``From the beginning we've been saying this guy's got some special abilities,'' head coach Greg Schiano said Friday. ``He just keeps getting better and better and I think things are slowing down for him like they do often-times for very talented rookies.''

Martin was having a decent rookie year through his first six games, but Thursday night's game vaulted him up to eighth place on the NFL rushing list with 543 yards.

``I wasn't really aware that this was going to be a breakout game,'' he said Thursday night. ``I just wanted to come in and focus on my job and do my job and the rest would take care of itself.''

A 41-yard run early in the game was Martin's first clue that this could be a special night for him, but he says he is still adjusting.

``As a rookie running back it is hard to come from college to the NFL,'' he said. ``The speed of the game has definitely increased. It's a feel thing; you have got to have that rhythm as a running back and get comfortable in the offense and have that game-time experience. I believe I'm definitely there, right where I need to be.''

The Bucs, who have 10 days to prepare for their next game at Oakland, will be searching for the right balance of getting the most out of Martin without wearing him down. He had 29 carries Thursday night and has 129 for the season.

``We do keep a close eye it because we don't want to find him in the latter part of the game unable to go, or get him bumped up,'' Schiano said. ``But the really special backs that I've been around, they want it and they get in the groove and they feel it.

``I could see that Doug was feeling it and he wanted carries. Now I also saw when he got gassed a little bit and I thought Earnest (Byner, the Bucs' running back coach) did a good job of getting him out when he could sense that. We're going to have to do a good job of regulating his carries, but . . . the last thing you want to do is take your guy off the field when he's feeling it because those guys get stronger.''

Notes: The Bucs' last victory on the road had been on Sept. 18, 2011, also at Minnesota . . . Michael Koenen's NFL-record streak of 21 straight touchbacks ended Thursday night when the Vikings finally ran a kickoff out of the end zone. When told it was the longest streak since the NFL/AFL merger in 1970, the 46-year-old Schiano replied: ``What merger? That's a record that will probably last for a while.''

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

The Capitals are the Eastern Conference Champions!

After dispatching Tampa Bay in Game 7, the Caps claimed the conference crown for just the second time in franchise history. But they're not done yet. Now it's on to Vegas to face the Golden Knights for the Stanley Cup.

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break down the Caps' win over the Lightning and look ahead to the matchup with the Knights.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—OTA report, fans excited about young D-line

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NBC Sports Washington

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—OTA report, fans excited about young D-line

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, May 25, 62 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington

Trades, misses and mistakes explain Redskins' dead cap—This post does a good job of outlining where the Redskins’ dead cap came from. It should be noted that dead cap is a part of the cost of doing business in the NFL and the Redskins have done fairly well managing it this year. Only about a dozen teams have less dead cap on the books than the Redskins $5.2 million. 

Tandler's Take—The best- and worst-case scenarios for the 2018 Redskins—I received some comments saying that my worst-case scenario, a 6-10 finish, is not low enough. Since we’re talking about events that won’t begin to happen for about three and a half months, I can’t really argue with them. But it’s just hard for me to see them dropping more than a game from last year when they were hit harder with injuries than any other team in the NFL. 

Pre-OTAs Redskins player one-liners, defense—An extension for Matt Ioannidis seemed preposterous a year ago, now it seems like a good idea. How many sacks for Lanier? When will Ryan Anderson get his first sack? Plus offensive player one-liners here

Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp—You can’t tell everything from OTAs, but you can tell some things. Taking another look at this post, I gave a good, detailed look at the session, but I didn’t really mention the overall feel, which was fun and energetic. 

Tweet of the week

Certainly, Derrius Guice is the fan favorite of the rookie class. But the great reaction to this tweet shows that there is plenty of love for Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen, last year’s top pick. 

In 2016, the starting defensive line consisted of Ricky Jean Francois, Chris Baker, and  Ziggy Hood. The top reserve was Cullen Jenkins. They all had their good qualities and made some plays. But Baker was the youngster of the group and he turned 30 during the season. It clearly was a group on the decline. 

Two years later, the picture is quite different. Payne and Allen lead a younger group that will get better over the next few years. Matt Ioannidis, Anthony Lanier, Tim Settle, and Stacy McGee should round out the group. McGee is by far the senior member of the group at age 28. None of the others have celebrated his 25thbirthday yet. 

Fans should perhaps temper their optimism with the knowledge that potential doesn’t always develop into performance. But unlike years past there is something to look forward to. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

Timeline  

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 18
—Training camp starts (7/26) 62
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 76

The Redskins last played a game 145 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 107 days. 

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