Sam Martin's kickoff ability could be a huge asset for the Lions in 2013

Posted Aug 20, 2013

Veteran David Akers says Sam Martin's kicking ability rivals that of his own when he was in his prime

For the average viewer, it's hard to evaluate a good kickoff in the NFL beyond where the ball lands. Is it returned? Is it downed? Is it kicked through the end zone with no chance of a return? That's about it.

But one measurement kickers themselves use to evaluate themselves is hang time. Lions kicker David Akers has one of the strongest legs in the NFL and finished in the top 10 in the NFL last year with 40 touchbacks.

Akers said when he was in his prime; his kickoffs would reach hang times of around 3.9 seconds.

He says that's nothing compared to what rookie punter Sam Martin is doing with his kickoffs.

"On my second kickoff last week to open the second half that one was 4.39 (seconds)," Martin said. "The first one was 4.34. I never really knew (how good my kickoffs were) because I never had much to compare it to.

"But (Akers) has been one of the best forever, so that's good to know."

Martin's second kickoff last week went through the end zone for a touchback. The first one was four yards deep and brought out to the Cleveland 22.

"There are some things you can't do, no matter how strong you are," Akers said. "I can't hit a 4.39 four (yards) deep out of the end zone. I just can't. I don't know if I was able to do that my rookie year. That's a special talent."

Martin's ability to kickoff has saved Akers' leg during camp and should have the same effect in the regular season. The Lions are hoping it's a real weapon for them this year.

So we now know Martin can kickoff ... but what about tackling?

Sam MartinP Sam Martin's ability to kick off could really benefit the Lions this year. (Photo: G. Smith/Detroit Lions)

Martin was put on the spot last week when Travis Benjamin returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown late in the first quarter. The play was called back for holding, but Martin's attempt at a tackle was still entertaining.

"Let's be clear here, I had no chance at that," Martin joked when asked about it after practice Tuesday. "The guy had two lead blockers.

"I was like, 'what am I going to do here?' The first thing I thought was maybe this guy runs into me and I can make him run into (returner) because there was no way I was getting around him. Slow him down and make the guy cut in.

"That clearly didn't work out too well."

No it didn't. Martin ended up face first in the Cleveland dirt.

"The biggest thing for us is if we can't get him out of bounds or hit him low to take him down, we want to make him change direction and slow him down because most of the time you have people persuing," he said.

Martin wanted the record to show that he did have to make a few tackles in college at Appalachian State (three solo tackles, in fact) and doesn't normally look as bad as he did in Cleveland.

We believe you, Sam.