Skip to main content

Martin Aiming For More On Special Teams

Anyone who has walked by Packers special teams standout Derrick Martin, whether it be on the field or in the locker room, knows one thing about him. He’s not shy.


Anyone who has walked by Packers special teams standout Derrick Martin, whether it be on the field or in the locker room, knows one thing about him.

He's not shy.

One of the more ebullient personalities on the Green Bay roster, Martin is almost always engaged in a conversation, if not multiple ones, chatting seriously about something in one direction while throwing playful trash talk in another.

So after a productive first season with the Packers in 2009 that saw him become one of the special teams leaders with 21 coverage tackles, it's no surprise the 5-foot-10, 198-pound fireplug isn't shying away from setting some lofty goals for 2010.

"To get at least 35 tackles," Martin said, rather matter-of-factly. "I don't think that's too far-fetched. You get two, three tackles a game and you're right on target. So that's my goal."

Never mind that 35 special teams tackles would tie the franchise record held by current director of college scouting John Dorsey. The stat has been kept since 1976, and only two players in team history have reached 30 in a season - Dorsey (35 in 1984, 30 in 1985) and Guy Prather (34 in 1981) - so Martin's target is ambitious any way you look at it.

But glance at the videotape from last season's game in Pittsburgh, and it's easy to see why Martin feels that number is totally realistic in special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum's scheme.

In that Week 15 contest, Martin ran down Steelers punt returner Stefan Logan after a 12-yard return on the game's first punt, tackled kick returner Joe Burnett after just a 10-yard runback following the Packers' first touchdown, and flew across the field to knock Logan out of bounds after a 9-yard return that appeared headed for much more down the near sideline. And all that was in just the first quarter.

Martin finished with five special teams tackles on the day, the highest single-game total on the season by a Green Bay player. What was the secret? The former Baltimore Raven, traded to the Packers on roster-reduction day following the final '09 preseason game last summer, just smiled.

"When I was in Baltimore, that was the team we hated," Martin said, referring to Pittsburgh. "I was able to watch a lot of film on them. They weren't blocking me. They had different keys, and (Coach) Slocum did a good job setting me up, putting me in different places where they really weren't expecting me to be."

But the expectations are certainly there now for Martin, whose performance on special teams prompted the team following the season to offer him a contract extension, which he signed in late February.

It will be worth watching what Martin can do in 2010 after a full offseason and training camp in Green Bay, background with Slocum and the playbook that he didn't have last season due to the Sept. 5 trade.

He was able to make an impact on special teams immediately anyway, though, posting three coverage tackles in his first two games, and he went on from there to post two three-tackle outings, plus the big game in Pittsburgh.

"It just worked for me," Martin said of how he caught on so quickly. "I'm a high-activity player, I'm always ready to fly to the ball, things of that sort. I kind of just fit into the scheme that Slocum had, and I think that's why they brought me back. I think we're all trying to go the same way."

Martin's intensity on the field is obvious, and he talks a lot too, sometimes to fire guys up and other times to keep the communication going amongst the special teams units.

It wasn't necessarily easy to earn teammates' trust as one of the special teams leaders, having joined the team so late and having struggled early at his primary defensive position, safety. As a fill-in for the injured Atari Bigby in Week 4 at Minnesota, Martin was caught out of position a couple of times, and the costly mistakes led to him being replaced in the defensive backfield.

But he stayed fired up as always on special teams, playing with so much aggression that he sustained a concussion making a tackle on a punt return in the rematch with Minnesota and missed one game. He also missed the regular-season finale and playoff contests in Arizona due to a badly sprained ankle from Week 16 vs. Seattle, though he was voted by his teammates as one of two special teams captains for the playoffs despite being injured.

{sportsad300}That's another reason he feels he can boost his tackle total in 2010. He got his 21 stops - one fewer than team-leader Desmond Bishop and one more than Spencer Havner - even though he sat out at least 21/2 regular-season games.

"That's one of those things that you never get used to," Martin said of watching from the sidelines. "But you learn more while you're sitting down that you can bring back with you when you come back."

Forced to miss the end of the season and the playoffs, Martin is perhaps more jazzed up about the offseason strength and conditioning program than some. He's going through full workouts and then doing some additional rehab on his ankle afterwards as a preventive measure against a recurrence. A full offseason and training camp in Green Bay should help him at safety as well.

As for the eye-opening statistical goal, Martin says it's nothing that's going to take priority in a selfish way over team play. It's just a mindset that he has that he can get in on every special teams tackle, a mindset he shares with players like Bishop and Havner. All three had at least 20 tackles last year, the first time the Packers had three special teamers with 20-plus tackles since 1984.

But that was also the year Dorsey set the team record with 35, while Prather totaled 26 and Cliff Lewis 22, so there's no ruling anything out, and no reason for Martin to be shy.

"We just want to bring everybody along with us," Martin said of the special teams leaders. "If we're all out there, 11 people running down there throwing knives like our coach says, we can't be stopped. If we're all on the same page, I don't think we can be wrong."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.