METAIRIE, La. ― For the past few Augusts, Head Coach Sean Payton has brought in two punters to Saints training camp.
This year, it turns out he didn’t need to bring in an extra punter. His backup already was on the roster.
Garrett Hartley, thrust into the punting position when Thomas Morstead separated his shoulder on the first possession of the Saints’ game against the Patriots, came through, averaging 47 yards per punt on five kicks.
And to think, he hadn’t punted since high school.
“It was definitely an adrenaline rush,” Hartley said. “My key focuses were catching the ball first and then just trying to get it over the line of scrimmage. Then whatever happened, happened.”
Whatever happened was a 55-yard punt on his first-punt in more than five years.
He followed that one up with a 46-yarder, a 33-yarder, a 45-yarder and a 56-yarder.
“I thought he did a good job considering he hadn’t worked at it,” Head Coach Sean Payton said. “I thought he did well, also on the kickoffs, which he works a little bit at. He did a good job in an emergency situation.”
Morstead is expected to return this week and practiced Monday. But the Saints now don’t have to worry about anything if Morstead goes down.