Derrick Martin hoping to create a niche

Street Talk Derrick Martin hoping to create a niche

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WESTMINSTER — Derrick Martin didn’t need time to think, simply reading the eyes of quarterback Troy Smith and reacting to the football approaching his territory.

In a blink, Martin had jumped the slant pattern for an interception.

It wasn’t the only time Martin was a step ahead of the offense Saturday morning in Westminster. The third-year cornerback had another near-interception where he deflected a pass and tipped it to himself five times, trying in vain to secure possession.

"That was fun," Martin said. "The ball was in the air, and I tried to get on it every time I could. I got my hands on a couple of them."

For Martin, it’s a definite case of needing to make a strong impression on a new coaching staff.

Months after an up-and-down season last year where Martin intercepted two passes with 40 tackles in three starts while playing in every game, the Ravens acquired speedy former Oakland Raiders first-round cornerback Fabian Washington in a trade. Washington is slated to be the nickel back. 

The team also signed former Green Bay Packers cornerback Frank Walker, and starters Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle are back from injury-marred seasons.

Last season, Martin was picked on repeatedly by Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during a nationally-televised starting debut. By the end of the season, though, the game was beginning to slow down for him and Martin made a few quarterbacks pay for underestimating him.

"I feel like I learned a lot last year," Martin said. "My first start was a little rough, and, after that, it was all downhill. I learned from that first game. I learned the defense inside and out.

"Now, I can really just play to my abilities. I don’t have to think about the plays. I can just play football. I’m better in pass coverage, and I’m keeping the ball in front of me. I feel like I can cover anybody."

 
Meanwhile, Martin, 23, was cited last month and charged with alleged possession of three small bags of marijuana at the Cleveland airport during a random TSA screening while attempting to board a flight, according to Ohio police officials.

The minor misdemeanor case, which is the equivalent to a ticket, is still pending. Martin’s agent, Brad Cicala, told 24×7 sources that Martin plans to plead not guilty. The maximum penalty is a $150 fine.

A sixth-round draft pick out of Wyoming in 2006, Martin hasn’t had any other brushes with the law or violations of the league’s substance abuse policies. A conviction or guilty plea could enter Martin in the first stage of the NFL substance-abuse program.

Martin agreed to an interview request provided that he not be questioned about the off-field incident, which hasn’t seemed to affect his status with the Ravens.

He has been receiving a lot of snaps, particularly with Rolle absent from camp following his father’s death and McAlister on the non-football injury list. Martin is competing with Ronnie Prude and David Pittman, who’s sidelined with a foot injury, for a roster spot.

A Denver native, Martin launched an offseason camp in Colorado that included free football and cheerleading clinics, a bowling event and a silent auction.

"I was happy to be able to give back to the community," he said. "That means a lot to me."

Plus, Martin and his wife, Alexa, celebrated the birth of a son, Derrick Jerome Martin III, on March 17.

"The little guy is getting big," Martin said. "It’s a real blessing."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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Aaron Wilson

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and Ravens24x7.com. He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best Sports News Story for the state of Maryland in voting conducted by the Associated Press managing editors. 

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