COORDINATOR CUT-UP: John Bonamego expecting a quick bounce-back performance from Sam Martin

Posted Sep 10, 2013

Tim Twentyman sits down with special teams coordinator John Bonamego to discuss the play of rookie punter Sam Martin in the Lions' 34-24 season-opening win over Minnesota

The first regular season game for rookie punter Sam Martin was filled with both highs and lows.

Sam MartinP Sam Martin (Photo: G. Smith/Detroit Lions)

Martin's fourth-quarter punt that pinned the Vikings on the 1-yard line with 4:17 remaining and the Lions holding a 10-point lead was a huge play in the game.

But his mishandling of a snap on the first field goal attempt by David Akers was equally as big.

Martin averaged just 38.5 yards per punt, but five of his seven kickoffs went for touchbacks and the two that were returned only came out to the 22- and 16-yard lines, respectively.

"He certainly didn't have his best game," special teams coordinator John Bonamego told me. "But the good thing about Sam is that he's a very diligent worker and he takes everything very seriously and we all expect him to rebound from this."

Martin had a couple of short punts that went 33 and 29 yards, but it was the drop on the field goal try that surprised Bonamego the most.

"They couldn't possibly work on that more or harder," Bonamego said. "It's unbelievable how much time they spend on just that aspect of the mechanic of the snap and hold and kick. Don (Muhlbach) trying to get laces out. Sam getting the ball down with the proper lean.

"He just dropped the ball, it's as simple as that. That's not a mistake he can make.

"It's important when things like that happen that you try to get your guy back to baseline as quickly as possible. Just recognize the mistake that was made, acknowledge it and take the corrective measure and move on."

Martin is doing three jobs for the Lions right now as a punter, kickoff man and holder.

"He's been able to do all three at a very high level," Bonamego said. "I'm not worried about Sam. He's a very mentally tough kid and he's a great athlete."

Bonamego also touched on a couple of other special team's trends from Sunday's game:

On his coverage units: "I think as a coach you have to look at things and recognize that there's always room for improvement, but I was pleased with the effort the guys played with and some of the younger guys and their awareness of what was happening and their ability to articulate that coming off the sideline."

On returner Michael Spurlock: "We need to block better for him. We didn't block in the return game as well as we should have. Give credit to Minnesota, their gunners and wide people did a very good job of beating double press and were able to disrupt the return before it got started. We have to address those things.

"What I like about Michael is his versatility. This guy has a lot of jobs for us. You see him covering kickoffs. He's the kickoff returner. He takes reps on punt team as a personal protector and you saw him go in as the gunner at the end of the game and make a great play on a ball at the 1-yard line. That was a huge play. Then he's also the punt returner. He's very sure handed back there and he's just a guy that we put a lot of trust in."