Martin: I'm Excited For The Challenge

Posted May 24, 2013

Second-year offensive lineman welcomes move back to left tackle.

Perspective is something Jonathan Martin is happy to dish out to those wondering how we will handle the switch from right tackle to left tackle in his second season with the Miami Dolphins.

Martin is as level headed as they come, especially for a football player making his living in the trenches. Much of that trait can be attributed to his being the son of two Harvard graduates – who found the fortitude to bypass the Ivy League school in favor of Stanford University.

So as the questions continued to mount this offseason about how Miami was going to address the departure of four-time Pro Bowler Jake Long on the left side, Martin never flinched. He finally got the answer he was looking for earlier this month when former Atlanta Falcons right tackle Tyson Clabo was signed to man the same position for the Dolphins, cementing Martin’s move to the left side.

“I’m excited. It’s a position I want to play, obviously,” said the 6-foot-5 Martin, who bulked up considerably since the end of his rookie campaign. “I’m excited for the challenge, I’m excited for the opportunity so I’m going to try to make the most of it during these OTAs and do whatever I can to help this team win.”

Even when reports of the Dolphins hosting veterans like Bryant McKinnie and Eric Winston surfaced, the second-round draft pick took it in stride. Left tackle is where Martin excelled in college protecting Andrew Luck’s blind side, so he seems less concerned about his return to that side of the line than he was about adjusting to right tackle in his first NFL season.

Fourth-year right guard John Jerry lined up next to Martin for the first 12 weeks in 2012 before watching him move to left tackle for the final four games after Long landed on Injured Reserve with a shoulder injury. He believes the soft-spoken Martin is more comfortable on the left, as does third-year center Mike Pouncey.

“He’s more fluid over there,” Pouncey said. “You can tell when he’s kick sliding that way he’s more comfortable being in a left-handed stance. Obviously, he wanted to play over there last year but he was forced to play the right side and I think he’s going to do a great job.”

Luck was of course the first quarterback taken in last year’s NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts and enjoyed a stellar rookie season, but seven picks later the Dolphins selected quarterback Ryan Tannehill and he had to put his trust in Martin over the final month. Both of them approached their first professional offseason with conviction, intent on making significant leaps at their respective positions in Year 2.

Tannehill took the initiative to lead offseason workouts before the start of last week’s OTAs in order to help ease the transition for some of the new free agents that were added like Clabo, wide receivers Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson, tight end Dustin Keller and guard Lance Louis. He got to see first hand the strides Martin has made.

“He looks good. I think he’s getting back to what he played in college and he’s comfortable there,” said Tannehill, who like Martin started all 16 games as a rookie. “He got to finish out the year there, and now he’s been working all offseason on that side, so I’m comfortable with him there and I think he’s comfortable as well.”

The addition of a proven veteran in Clabo will only benefit Martin, as he can look to him, Pouncey and Pro Bowl left guard Richie Incognito for guidance and reassurance. The entire offensive line is a tight group and each of them understands the importance of their role to the overall success of the offense.

Martin points to Incognito and Pouncey as two of the team leaders and explained how they have pushed him and the rest of the offensive linemen on the field and in the weight room. They showed confidence in him at the end of last season when he had to take over for Long and Martin is using those four games as an impetus to his second season.

“I played all right,” he said. “I definitely have a lot of room for improvement from where I finished up the year last year, so I think it’s a good barometer just in terms of how I played as a rookie, but it gives me a basis from which I can improve from this season. When it comes down to it left tackles have to protect the quarterback. That’s what you’re getting paid to do and that’s the job description.”

For Martin, it has become his full-time job description.

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