2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Patriots truly displaying 'special' teams of late

By HOWARD ULMAN - AP Sports Writer
    2012-11-28 18:48

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - Derrick Martin has built a championship career out of playing on special teams.

The seven-year veteran earned Super Bowl rings the past two seasons - first with the Green Bay Packers and then with the New York Giants. Now he has a shot at a third straight title with the New England Patriots.

He offers no apologies for making his mark on special teams rather than on the higher profile offensive or defensive units.

``You look for guys to step in and contribute,'' Martin said Wednesday of special teams. ``Don't be out there just because you have to, but take it as a serious job, make sure you're making the plays that you're supposed to make.''

The Patriots (8-3) have made some big ones during their five-game winning streak with touchdowns on a 104-yard kickoff return by Devin McCourty, a 68-yard punt return by Julian Edelman and a 22-yard fumble return by Edelman after McCourty jarred the ball loose on a kickoff return.

Plays like that can energize the Patriots and deflate their opponents.

``You feed off of it,'' Martin said. ``When you see somebody else making a play, you're like, `Man, it's probably my turn to make that play,' and everybody's competing to make that play, but they're all doing their job. So everybody's working well as a team.''

His next chance comes Sunday in Miami where a win would give the Patriots their fourth straight AFC East title. The Dolphins (5-6) also have made some big plays on special teams with Marcus Thigpen scoring on a 72-yard punt return and a 96-yard kickoff return this season.

``It's not going to be an easy task going against them, and it's not going to be easy for them going against us,'' said Marlon Moore, Miami's second-leading tackler on special teams. ``It's going to be a long day on both sides of the ball for special teams, and that's going to be a big difference in the game.''

In their last two games, the Dolphins have allowed touchdowns on a 79-yard punt return and a 98-yard kickoff return. But Miami's special teams have improved since the 2010 season when they were especially poor against New England.

In two games against the Patriots that season, the Dolphins allowed three special teams touchdowns, one each on a punt and kickoff return, as well as a blocked field goal. Another blocked field goal set up a touchdown two plays later.

If the Patriots can keep making big plays - and scoring touchdowns - on special teams it will result from the seasonlong focus on the importance of that phase.

``Our hard work and preparation throughout the week is starting to show itself in the games,'' special teams captain Matthew Slater said. ``We haven't changed anything. We just continue to approach things the same way we always have and sometimes you're fortunate enough for things to happen in your favor, the ball to bounce the right way in your favor.

``And we've been able to have that the last two weeks.''

In a 59-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts, Edelman's punt return for a touchdown and the extra point tied the game 14-14 and the Patriots never trailed again. Four days later, on Thanksgiving night, McCourty's hit on kickoff returner Joe McKnight knocked the ball into the air and Edelman caught it and ran in for a touchdown that gave the Patriots a 28-0 lead in their 49-19 win.

McCourty was chosen for the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2010 and anchors the secondary at safety after shifting from cornerback after the sixth game. He takes his special teams responsibilities just as seriously.

``You can make a lot of big plays on special teams and I'm on a couple of them,'' McCourty said. ``It's key for me to do my role on that special team and try to make plays as well.''

Scoring on special teams also can give the offense more time on the sideline to rest and plan. If a player returns a punt or kickoff for a touchdown, Tom Brady can watch his defense go right back out on the field.

``It's a great thing to happen for a team,'' he said. ``We've been fortunate the last few weeks. I don't think there's really an advantage for our offense sitting over there. I'd prefer to be out there playing. But if we're scoring points, that's a great thing.''

Making contributions on special teams is important for players, whether they score or not. It can lead to long careers they wouldn't have if they had to get by only on their offensive or defensive talents.

Slater has just one reception in five seasons with the Patriots but leads the team with 14 special teams tackles and has 72 in his five pro seasons, all with New England. Martin has five in three games with the Patriots and 62 in his career that began with Baltimore in 2006.

``We're a very close knit group of guys,'' Slater said. ``We understand how we're going to keep jobs in this league and we take a lot of pride in what we're doing.''

Especially when the emphasis the Patriots put on special teams leads to big plays and victories.

``You're not counting on the special team to score every game. It's just not realistic for that to happen,'' Slater said. ``But when it does happen, it brings a huge momentum swing to the game. In the case of the last two weeks, it's been huge for us.''

And the teams that don't stress special teams as much?

``Those are usually teams,'' Martin said, ``that are losing.''

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Chris CantyFeb 27 11:32a

Baltimore Ravens DE Chris Canty was released Friday, Feb. 27. The move saved the team around $2.7 million on the salary cap.

Brian HartlineFeb 27 10:32a

Miami Dolphins WR Brian Hartline was released Friday, Feb. 27.

Harry DouglasFeb 27 10:32a

Atlanta Falcons WR Harry Douglas was released Friday, Feb. 27.

Matt HasselbeckFeb 26 07:42p

Indianapolis Colts impending free-agent QB Matt Hasselbeck was re-signed to a one-year deal Thursday, Feb. 26. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Steven JacksonFeb 26 07:32p

Atlanta Falcons RB Steven Jackson will reportedly be released Friday, Feb. 27.

Adrian PetersonFeb 26 05:52p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's suspension was overturned by U.S. District Judge David S. Doty Thursday, Feb. 26. However, the NFL also announced that they will appeal the ruling, [ More ]

Travis KelceFeb 26 05:42p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce, who led the team with 67 catches and 862 receiving yards in 2014, is expected to be a more prominent part of the [ More ]

Kendall LangfordFeb 26 04:12p

St. Louis Rams DT Kendall Langford was released Thursday, Feb. 26, saving the team $6 million in salary cap space.

Greg HardyFeb 26 02:32p

Carolina Panthers impending free-agent DE Greg Hardy will seek immediate reinstatement after a judge overturned Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's suspension, according to a source.

Theo RiddickFeb 26 02:22p

Detroit Lions RB Theo Riddick likely will be given the chance to earn a bigger role in the offense next season after the team released RB Reggie Bush.

Adrian PetersonFeb 26 12:32p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's suspension has been overturned after a judge granted a motion from the NFL Players Association to vacate the suspension.

Michael RoosFeb 26 12:02p

Free-agent OT Michael Roos (Titans) has announced his retirement from professional football.

Dez BryantFeb 26 09:03a

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant is likely to receive the franchise tag because the team is hesitant to sign him long term due to a lack of trust off [ More ]

Peyton ManningFeb 25 09:23p

The Denver Broncos and representatives for QB Peyton Manning are working on revising the veteran's contract, according to multiple league sources. He is scheduled to draw a $19 million [ More ]

Reggie BushFeb 25 05:33p

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush has been cut Wednesday, Feb. 25.

A.J. HawkFeb 25 04:43p

Green Bay Packers LB A.J. Hawk was released Wednesday, Feb. 25. The move will save them $3.5 million against the salary cap in 2015.

Jacoby JonesFeb 25 12:33p

Baltimore Ravens WR Jacoby Jones was released Wednesday, Feb. 25.

Peyton HillisFeb 25 10:43a

New York Giants RB Peyton Hillis was released Wednesday, Feb. 25. The move saves $945,000 on the 2015 salary cap.

Dez BryantFeb 24 10:33p

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant's NFL career could be in jeopardy if a video he allegedly appears is as bad as it sounds. A source said the 'incriminating video [ More ]

Jake LongFeb 24 09:23p

The St. Louis Rams are likely to release OT Jake Long this offseason for savings against the salary cap, according to beat writer Nick Wagoner.

Mathias KiwanukaFeb 24 03:33p

New York Giants DE Mathias Kiwanuka has been released Tuesday, Feb. 24.

DeAngelo WilliamsFeb 24 12:23p

Free-agent RB DeAngelo Williams (Panthers) said he was not upset when the Carolina Panthers told him last week that he'd be released. Williams told Charlotte's WBTV that DE Greg [ More ]

Adrian PetersonFeb 23 06:13p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's father denied a report that Peterson no longer wants to play for Minnesota. Peterson's father said Peterson is still open to a return to [ More ]

Ted Ginn Jr.Feb 23 04:53p

Arizona Cardinals WR Ted Ginn Jr. was released Monday, Feb. 23.

Adrian PetersonFeb 23 02:52p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's situation with the team worsened during the NFL scouting combine as his agent and members of Minnesota's front office had a heated verbal altercation, [ More ]

Victor CruzFeb 21 10:22a

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) looks good as he continues to recover from a torn right pateller tendon in his knee, according to general manager Jerry Reese. [ More ]

R. Griffin IIIFeb 20 02:52p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III will enter the 2015 season as the team's starting quarterback, and general manager Bruce Allen thinks Griffin's ceiling in the NFL remains high. [ More ]

Devonta FreemanFeb 20 08:42a

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman fits well in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's scheme, according to head coach Dan Quinn. 'My first impression: I can feel the quickness,' Quinn said [ More ]

Victor CruzFeb 19 07:12p

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) may commence running shortly, according to head coach Tom Coughlin. Cruz is recovering from a torn right patellar tendon in his right knee.

Andre EllingtonFeb 19 05:12p

Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington (foot) remains the focal point of the offense, according to Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians. Ellington split the injured tendon in his left foot, [ More ]

C.J. AndersonFeb 19 02:22p

Denver Broncos RB C.J. Anderson finished the year as the team's No. 1 running back and made the Pro Bowl, but new head coach Gary Kubiak said Anderson must [ More ]

James CaseyFeb 19 02:22p

Philadelphia Eagles TE James Casey has been released.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group