Martin, the Detroit Lions’ fifth-round pick last year, finished sixth in the NFL in punting average (47.2) and 10th in net punting average (40.2).
His 67.3-yard average per kickoff was the highest in the NFL among any kicker with at least 10 kickoffs.
But when Martin went back and looked at the film after the season, there were some things that concerned him.
“I noticed lots of times, no matter what the result of the punt was, good punt or bad punt, my technique oftentimes would deviate between punts,” he said.
“Even if I hit a good ball sometimes I wouldn’t like my follow through. So the big focus was just getting more technically sound and repeating the same thing over and over.”
That’s been the main focus in practice through the offseason training program, OTAs and minicamp, and Martin says he’s seeing results.
“It’s resulted, at least from what I’ve seen so far, in a lot more control of my directional punts,” he said. “I’m putting punts a lot closer to the sideline consistently and I’m just more comfortable.”
Martin says he's benefited from the return of special team’s coach John Bonamego, who was retained from the old regime during the coaching changes this offseason. Martin hasn’t had to start over with Bonamego, instead he's able to build upon a good rookie campaign with a coach who knows him better than anyone.
He's shortened his steps this spring and made other slight changes he says make him do less work with better results.
Results that head coach Jim Caldwell has certainly taken notice of.
“Sam, obviously, has a live leg,” Caldwell said. “He does a great job. He’s athletic. I anticipate that he’s going to continue to improve. He’s only in his second year. He’s young. He’s done a nice job so far.”
Martin says he’s just trying to improve his all-around game at this point, but will sit down and write out goals for the upcoming season “soon enough.”He might not spell it out in so many words, but being one of the top three punters in the NFL seems a very attainable goal.