Martin missed most of training camp with a groin injury, but made the 53-man roster as a backup to Bubba Franks. In fact, Martin only played in one preseason game and participated in a handful of practices. In fact, he has only played in 47 of a possible 64 games with the Green Bay Packers since 2001.
Most NFL teams, including the Packers, quickly lose their patience with players who struggle with injuries or fail to live up to expectations. Martin is an exception. He gets an exemption because of his potential.
Since his "breakout" rookie season when he caught 13 passes for 144 and a touchdown, Martin has let the Packers down more than a movie sequel. In the last three seasons, Martin has played in 33 of 48 regular season games and caught 26 passes for 200 yards and three touchdowns. He has missed a number of games with a variety of nagging injuries, his latest - a groin injury.
Martin continues to remain on the team. Here are a few good reasons why:
1. The team re-signed him to a two-year, $1.365 million contract extension this spring. The deal included a $250,000 signing bonus.
2. Martin, the former University of Tennessee wide receiver, has the ability to "stretch the field," a lot like Keith Jackson did in the mid-1990s. Martin has good hands to go along with his speed. His blocking skills also have improved.
In other words, the Packers continue to bank their money on the hope that Martin will combine with Franks to make life miserable for opposing defenses. In the last three seasons, Martin has only flashed that potential, which apparently is enough for the Packers.
Brett Favre is one of those believers in Martin.
"Not too many people have a lot of confidence in him right now," Favre said. "‘He's hurt again,' or ‘How many chances do we give this guy?' But he's a really a good guy. He's real quiet. David never says a word. Between he and Bubba, I don't know who talks less. David, obviously, is a very talented guy.
"A lot of those guys don't even know who Keith Jackson is. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to play with Keith. Even though it was the latter part of his career, I'm sure that early in Keith's career, he had the same genetic makeup (as Martin). Keith wasn't a real big guy, but he was fast. He was one of those 'tweeners at receiver. Not a great blocker and Keith would be the first to admit that he was not a blocker. But in this offense we ask our guys to block. I think that's new to David. I think he wants to be here. There is no doubt his talent can allow him to be good. He just has to gain confidence in himself. "I've said this throughout my career: I'll never have reservations about throwing to anyone. If they're out there running routes and they're getting open, I'll throw it to them. If they drop it, they drop it. … I think two things with David: He probably has a lack of confidence because he struggles to stay on the field all the time. If he could stay healthy, he'll gain confidence by playing and getting experience and making plays.
"He made a couple plays last year. One that stands out in particular was a big catch against Minnesota here last year along the sideline. A great catch in traffic. He beat a safety one-on-one in man coverage. When you've got that type of weapon, it makes defenses approach you differently. Bubba (Franks) offers a different dimension than David does. Bubba's probably the best blocking tight end in the league. David is not as good of a blocker, but he's more of a deep threat. We need that kind of combination. It's a lot like ‘Chewy' (Mark Chmura) and Keith Jackson. If we can keep David healthy … mentally he's got to be tougher and stronger with himself. The talent is there, and he's gonna get a chance."
Again and again and again. Maybe this will be the year for Martin. Maybe he will silence the critics and deliver dividends for the offense despite his injury history. Maybe, but don't count on it.
Note: Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him with your thoughts and comments at email@example.com.