HOUSTON – Lions punter Sam Martin was at this year’s Pro Bowl in Orlando, just not as a participant.
He and long snapper Don Muhlbach accepted an invitation from Lions kicker Matt Prater, who was selected to play in the game as an alternate, to come down and join him in the festivities.
Next season, it’s a goal of Martin’s to get on the field and be considered the best punter in the NFC, if not the NFL.
“That’s the goal for every season,” said Martin, who was at the Super Bowl Wednesday promoting shortpar4.com.
“It’s not the ultimate grade on every season, because I had a great season, (Johnny) Hekker just had one better. Making the Pro Bowl doesn’t make or break my season, but that’s always a personal goal.”
Martin was the first alternate to the Pro Bowl behind Hekker (LA Rams) after finishing the regular season with a 44.2 net punting average that re-set the Lions record for net punting average in a season by passing the 42.0 average he established in 2015.
Martin’s net punting average ranks as the third-best single-season total in NFL history. He finished 2016 second in the NFL in net punting average (Hekker was No. 1; 46.0) and third in gross average (48.5). Hekker was fifth in gross punting (47.8).
“I’m a tough grader,” said Martin, when asked to evaluate his season. “But this season I would give myself a pretty good grade. I exceeded my goals other than going to the Pro Bowl.
"My coverage team was awesome. My kickoff coverage team was awesome. So, I definitely think that personally I’d grade my season very well, but like anything else, it’s hard to be perfect, so, I can always be better, but I was definitely happy with my season.”
Martin will take some time off and then get back to work on his game. He plans on following the same regime that’s seen him get better and better every season he’s been in the league.
“I think it’s the same as always, really,” he said of his planned offseason workout. “It’s been working this far. Working on consistency and constantly getting better. I don’t think it’s one specific field. I think it’s just overall perfecting my game as much as I can.”