Martin hopes to show his worth to Eagles
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Fletcher Cox may be the Eagles best defensive player but his absence from voluntary OTAs has given others a chance to prove their worth to Jim Schwartz and the team's new defensive staff.
Early in the process, Taylor Hart, the prototypical five-technique brought in during the Chip Kelly era, was running with the No. 1s inside next to Bennie Logan but that didn't last long. By week two, free agent pickup Mike Martin, a stocky 6-foot-1, 300-pound former third-round pick had already earned the extra looks.
Martin is thrilled to be out of the 3-4, two-gap defense Ray Horton and Dick LeBeau preferred in Nashville and into a scheme that better suits his talents.
“I played a lot of five-technique with the Titans. (The 3-4 is) something that I was kind of disappointed in Tennessee when we were playing that, but you gotta adjust,” Martin told 973espn.com last week. “You need to adjust and do the best you can. That’s this game. Coaches switch and you have to be able to change to stay in this game. But to be back in a system like this, excites me a lot.”
Martin, 25, acknowledged that the Eagles perceived lack of depth behind Cox and Logan was part of the reason he joined Philadelphia in free agency, as was Schwartz’s attacking scheme, which utilizes the defensive lineman's natural, three-technique mindset.
“I already knew what they were all about," Martin said. "Then when I got to see what type of scheme they were bringing in and what coach Schwartz wanted to emphasize, with getting off the ball and getting to our landmarks and things like that, it really excited me and solidified it for me, because I know I can flourish in a system like that.”
Asked why he fits an attacking philosophy so well, Martin pointed to his quickness off the ball.
"My quickness and my get-off and the type of player I am, (this defense) suits me well," Martin said. "So it’s exciting.”
The transition to a new team can be a difficult one but Martin can lean on some familiar faces in Brandon Graham, a former teammate at Michigan, and Vinny Curry, who he roomed with at the Senior Bowl back in 2012.
Martin played in 46 games in Music City, starting five, over his four seasons with the Titans, collecting 41 tackles and four sacks over that span. However, he played only 52 defensive snaps in his walk year last season before going down with a knee injury.
"I'm felling great," he said when asked about the injury. "There are no issues whatsoever. I'm ready to go and I think you can see that."
He also showed a bit of a nasty streak today, nearly getting in a full-scale scuffle with left guard Allen Barbre, which saw the left guard's helmet ripped off and deposited on the turf.
Aside from intimidation, Martin is focused on showing his versatility with the added repetitions he is getting as well as a skill set that will warrant playing time in a scheme predicated on having a rotation to keep everyone fresh.
“Really, I’m just trying to work on my hands because we’re not allowed to have a lot of contact,” Martin explained. “If I’m good with my hands, I can show them how I can move in this defense. I think that’s something that they can see and you can’t really deny. I’m just going to continue to improve and show them those things. When it comes time to put the pads on, it will just translate.”
WEEK NO. 3 OTA NOTEBOOK:
*Running back Ryan Mathews was back after an illness kept him out on Tuesday of last week but he started out on the second-team behind Kenjon Barner.
*Ron Brooks was today's starter at right cornerback opposite Leodis McKelvin. In the nickel Brooks would slip inside with Eric Rowe taking over outside the numbers. In the three practices open to the media this far, we have had three different players get looks at RC, Rowe, rookie Jalen Mills and now Brooks.
*There was a little trickery today as wide receiver Josh Huff took an end around and threw back to RCB Wendell Smallwood successfully. A similar play, however, did not work when Nelson Agholor threw back to Carson Wentz but overthrew the QB, who didn't exactly run through the route.
*Kicker Cody Parkey was back working in team drills but he's still not 100 percent at this point and Caleb Sturgis is flashing the far superior leg strength.
*Barbre continues to run as the starting left guard while Matt Tobin received a few looks at left tackle with the first team when Jason Peters took a breather.
*For the second straight practice open to the media Carson Wentz victimized his old North Dakota State teammate CJ Smith on a go route. Chris Givens beat the UDFA last week and today it was Xavier Rush.
*It was a Sloppy day from Sam Bradford as his first pass in team drills, a deep in route was picked by Rodney McLeod off a tipped ball. Mychal Kendricks also jumped an underneath route and dropped a sure pick while Jaylen Watkins nearly got Bradford but was out of the end zone.
*The surprise of offseason work so far might be tight end/fullback Chris Pantale, who is standing out for not only her versatility but also his hands. Today's practice ended with Wentz hooking up with the Boston College product on a beautiful corner route in red-zone work.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen