Sam Martin’s directional punting an asset for Broncos special teams – The Denver Post
Broncos punter Sam Martin receives any given football with three variables to consider in his attempt to flip field position: distance, location and hang time.
“It’s definitely not easy,” said Martin, an eighth-year NFL punter in his second Broncos season. “It’s a constant process and something I worked on all offseason.”
In Denver’s victory Sunday against the Dolphins, Martin’s right foot aced all three categories with poetic punting. His best game of the year came against one of the NFL’s top return men, speedy Miami wide receiver Jakeem Grant, who entered the game at 14.3 yards per runback.
Martin booted a punt 48 yards, left-to-right, that landed out of bounds at the Dolphins’ 21. Then Martin launched the football 52 yards, right-to-left, caught by Grant at his own 11. Denver safety Alijah Holder quickly forced him out at the 17.
Martin’s last punt? A 56-yard bomb with no chance for a return.
“(Miami) had been doing a lot of things in the special teams to help them win and we were able to not give up anything there,” Broncos coach Vic Fangio said after his team’s 20-13 win. “Sam did a great job punting.”
Martin, a former fifth-round NFL draft selection from Appalachian State, has shown a knack for specific ball placement with directional punts to either side of the field. Where Broncos special teams coordinator Tom McMahon has called for improvement, though, is increased hang time. Martin lifted punts into the air for 4.25, 3.89 and 4.14 seconds against the Dolphins.
“(Martin) wants to work his tail off on that hangtime,” McMahon said last month. “He’s done a nice job hitting the edges. You don’t know which way he’s going to punt the ball so it makes it hard on a returner. He’s proven that he can do that for us.”
The Broncos (4-6) host the Saints (8-2) on Sunday and must account for New Orleans wide receiver Deonte Harris — a punt return man averaging 12.2 yards per attempt with a long of 42. Denver’s small margin of error against the NFC South leaders means Martin will likely play a factor if the Broncos pull off an upset.
Just don’t expect Martin to revel in his own punting success.
“It’s a good feeling, but really at the end of the day, it’s what I get paid to do,” Martin said. “We executed our game plan and we got out of there limiting (Grant’s) touches. … If I don’t get it done, it’s more of a bad feeling than a good feeling when I actually do it (well).”