‘Little things' add up for Martin

PackerReport.com's Todd Korth caught up with wide receiver Ruvell Martin in the Packers' locker room the other day. Martin explained how the team's off-season practices have been invaluable for him in learning the in the details of the offense.

Brett Favre may find minicamps and Organized Team Activities practices boring, but they are anything but that for younger players, like Ruvell Martin. The second-year wide receiver has been absorbing tips from Favre and other veterans, like Donald Driver, to further enhance his ability to make plays for the offense this season.

Martin, who was cut in training camp by San Diego in 2004 and '05, made Green Bay's roster last season as a free agent and ended up playing in 16 games with three starts. He finished with 21 catches and one touchdown. By the end of the season, he was the team's No. 3 receiver.

Martin is expected to take on the same role this season behind Driver and Greg Jennings, but other receivers like Robert Ferguson, James Jones and David Clowney will provide plenty of competition in training camp. Also, veteran Koren Robinson is expected to return to the team in late September after a year-long NFL-mandated suspension.

Martin has remained in Green Bay this off-season to participate in the team's workout program. He has been using the minicamp and OTA practices to improve his knowledge of recognizing defenses better prior to running his route, which increase his chances of getting open and catching passes.

"I'm trying to get my releases planned in my head – check out the defense and know what I'm going to do, as opposed to doing it as I go," said the 6-foot-4 Martin, who averaged 17.0 yards per catch last season. "That definitely helps.

"There was a particular situation that happened (in practice). I got the route first (among the receivers) and I didn't really have a plan for what I was going to do. It was kind of a look that I wasn't used to. Kind of did it on the fly, the defender got a chip on me, ‘A-Rod' (Aaron Rodgers) threw me the ball and it was a little out in front of me. Came back to the sideline and talked to Donald (Driver) about it. He said, ‘In that situation this is exactly what you need to do.' Twenty minutes later, he had the exact same route. Did what he is supposed to do, and it worked like a charm.

"Things like that, you take a mental note and you're like, ‘All right, next time I go out, I'm going to do that.'

"You're not learning the playbook, but it's little things like that, so next time I go out there, ‘I'm going to do that.' You stack those in your memory bank. It's definitely building up, and there are plenty of situations that I have put under my belt where I feel perfect, but it's getting those few that I haven't figured out yet, so everything (snaps fingers) is natural."

Ever wonder why a receiver who starred in college has trouble doing the same as a rookie in the NFL? The combination of having to learn an offense that literally has hundreds of plays while adjusting to ever-changing defenses often leaves rookies thinking too much before reacting. In most cases, that either spells an incompletion or no chance of making a catch because he's well covered.

With a solid season behind him, Martin wisely is taking what he learned in the 439 offensive snaps he played last season, and adding to his knowledge this off-season. He said he has gotten more accustomed to Mike McCarthy's offense and how it is designed to execute against certain defenses.

"There was another situation in minicamp (May 18-20) where I had run the play a couple of times last season," Martin explained. "It's a play designed for (Donald) Driver, or Greg (Jennings) to run. If for some reason, neither of those two could run it, I'm the next guy to run it. Last year, I never got a chance to really learn what they were doing. I could see what they were doing, but I didn't get a chance to see how they used technique in certain situations.

"In minicamp, I get a chance to run it, and in talking to Brett (I ask) ‘What exactly are you thinking on this? What exactly do you want me to do?' He tells me, and it just so happens that I got the play 5 minutes later, ran it perfect and we get a 16-yard gain on it, something like that. So, stack another play in my memory. It's little things like that that come up, so I know exactly what to do where I'm not thinking, or am unsure of what I am doing."

For those who insist that the Packers' offense lacks playmakers, Martin is a diamond in the rough as he smooths the edges this off-season on his receiving skills.

Todd Korth

Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com.

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