Doug Martin injury: Buccaneers are 'optimistic' RB will return in 2013

Kevin C. Cox

The Buccaneers will be without running back Doug Martin on Thursday night, but they're hopeful he will be back this season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin sustained a torn labrum in last week's loss to the Atlanta Falcons, but the team is still optimistic it'll have him back before the end of the 2013 season, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

Martin attempted to leap for a jump ball in the end zone when he was toppled by a defender and landed hard on his shoulder. Reports on the injury have been inconsistent throughout the week, ranging from season-ending to missing one week, but a labrum tear has been confirmed.

With Martin sidelined, the Buccaneers will turn to rookie running back Mike James on Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers. He ran the ball 14 times against the Falcons following Martin's injury, but was largely ineffective, running for just 45 yards.

Struggling teams tend to make desperate moves, but it would be foolish to force Martin back into action before he's 100 percent healed. It's likely the Buccaneers are past the point of return in 2013, and saving face isn't worth a potential long-term injury for one of the few remaining running backs who can carry the offensive load.

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