2015 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

Stephen HillAug 2 08:02p

The Carolina Panthers waived WR Stephen Hill (knee) after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament Sunday, Aug. 2.

Terrelle PryorAug 2 07:52p

Cleveland Browns WR Terrelle Pryor took reps with the first-team offense during training camp Sunday, Aug. 2.

Martavis BryantAug 2 04:22p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Martavis Bryant (elbow) will undergo a procedure for an elbow infection that will cause him to miss the Hall of Fame Game Sunday, Aug. 9, against [ More ]

Michael EgnewAug 2 03:02p

The Pittsburgh Steelers have released TE Michael Egnew.

Tony McDanielAug 2 12:12p

The Seattle Seahawks released DT Tony McDaniel Sunday, Aug. 2. McDaniel should quickly find a new home.

Stephen HillAug 2 12:02p

Carolina Panthers WR Stephen Hill (knee) has an ACL injury, according to assistant head coach Steve Wilks Sunday, Aug. 2.

Sam BradfordAug 2 11:52a

Philadelphia Eagles QB Sam Bradford (knee) has been cleared for 11-on-11 drills Sunday, Aug. 2, and head coach Chip Kelly told reporters the quarterback doesn't have any restrictions.

Stephen HillAug 2 10:12a

The Carolina Panthers signed free-agent WR Paul Browning Sunday, Aug. 2. Browning is expected to take WR Stephen Hill's roster spot.

Brandon BoykinAug 1 08:12p

The Pittsburgh Steelers acquired CB Brandon Boykin from the Philadelphia Eagles Saturday, Aug. 1, in exchange for a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. The Eagles could [ More ]

Kyle WilliamsAug 1 02:22p

Denver Broncos WR Kyle Williams (Achilles') suffered at least a partially torn Achilles' tendon in practice Saturday, Aug. 1, according to a source. He may be out for the season.

Melvin GordonAug 1 02:12p

San Diego Chargers RB Melvin Gordon has struggled with pass protection through the first three days of training camp.

Devin SmithJul 31 09:32p

New York Jets WR Devin Smith (ribs) will miss a majority of training camp after suffering broken ribs Friday, July 31, according to the team. He will be held [ More ]

Bashaud BreelandJul 31 07:42p

Washington Redskins CB Bashaud Breeland (knee) is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks because of a knee injury he suffered during practice Friday, July 31.

Bashaud BreelandJul 31 07:22p

Washington Redskins CB Bashaud Breeland has been suspended one game by the NFL for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Breeland received a citation for marijuana possession last year.

Jason Pierre-PaulJul 31 06:22p

New York Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul (hand) is not allowed to use his injured hand while it is healing from the fireworks accident he had earlier this month. Pierre-Paul [ More ]

Orson CharlesJul 31 06:02p

New Orleans Saints TE Orson Charles has been suspended one game by the NFL for violating the league's personal conduct policy.

Marcus MariotaJul 31 03:52p

Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota went 13-for-18 with zero interceptions during team drills at practice Friday, July 31. He was able to use a hard count to make the [ More ]

Jameis WinstonJul 31 12:52p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston was officially named the starting quarterback Friday, July 31, by Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith.

Junior GaletteJul 31 12:12p

Free-agent LB Junior Galette (Saints) will sign a one-year contract with the Washington Redskins, according to a source.

James JonesJul 30 06:52p

Free-agent WR James Jones (Raiders) is signing a one-year deal with the New York Giants. Financial terms were undisclosed.

Cobi HamiltonJul 30 06:42p

Cincinnati Bengals WR Cobi Hamilton was waived Thursday, July 30.

Jason Pierre-PaulJul 30 06:42p

New York Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul (finger) has not reported to training camp as he continues to rehabilitate from a finger injury, much to the dismay of owner John [ More ]

David FluellenJul 30 06:12p

Free-agent RB David Fluellen (Colts) signed with the Tennessee Titans Thursday, July 30.

Tyler EifertJul 30 03:23p

Cincinnati Bengals TE Tyler Eifert said he is 100% healthy for the first time since the beginning of last offseason.

LeGarrette BlountJul 30 01:22p

New England Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount was placed on the Non-Football Injury list because he was not able to complete the conditioning test at the start of training camp. [ More ]

Kelvin BenjaminJul 30 01:02p

Carolina Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin (hamstring) said his hamstrings are fine and that he is 100% healthy entering training camp.

Terrance WestJul 30 12:52p

Cleveland Browns RB Terrance West worked with the first-team offense during team drills Thursday, July 30. Head coach Mike Pettine said several running backs will see time with the starters during training camp.

Trent RichardsonJul 30 10:22a

Oakland Raiders RB Trent Richardson is rumored to being unimpressive with his new team.

Tom BradyJul 30 10:12a

Updating an ongoing story, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's lawsuit was transferred to Manhattan, N.Y., by a Minnesota judge Friday, July 30.

Tom BradyJul 30 09:52a

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady has filed a lawsuit against the NFL asking a Minnesota federal court for penalties against Brady to be vacated. The suit alleges that [ More ]

Jake LongJul 30 09:42a

Free-agent OT Jake Long (Rams) left his visit with the New York Giants Wednesday, July 29, without a deal. It was his second visit with the team without a [ More ]

Joseph RandleJul 29 08:43p

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle received strong praise from team owner and general manager Jerry Jones Wednesday July 29. 'We have a player (in Randle) that has the potential [ More ]

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