Marcus Murphy giving New Orleans Saints special teams a heartbeat


Yesterday, Marcus Murphy did something that no man has done for the New Orleans Saints in four years — he returned a punt for a touchdown.  Thanks to a penalty flag, he was given a second opportunity after failing on the first with a muffed punt.

It was the second-straight game Marcus Murphy muffed a punt, but he made up for it in a big way, the biggest way possible.  He took the next one to the house for a 74-yard touchdown, becoming the first Saint to do such a thing since Darren Sproles did it at Lambeau Field in the 2011 season opener versus the Green Bay Packers — a play that quickly helped fans get over the departed Reggie Bush.

We’ve been waiting to see this since Murphy started breaking big ones in the return game Week 1 of the preseason.  Watching his vision and shiftiness made the anticipation grow.  He’s a special athlete, earning an All-American spot in 2014 as an all-purpose back at Missouri.  If he can learn to protect the ball better, the Saints have found themselves a steal out of the seventh and final round of the draft.

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It’s funny — Murphy garnered a lot of attention from the national media in college, often being compared to Darren Sproles.  Well, he certainly pulled off quite the Sproles impersonation Sunday afternoon in Charlotte.  The Saints have been missing a player like that on special teams for some time now.

Marcus Murphy spoke with the media following the loss to the Carolina Panthers.

“They have confidence in me,” Murphy said. “They’re keeping their blocks, I just have to focus up and just come out and get better each week.  It’s a big adjustment (the NFL). The kickers are a lot a stronger, and just coming in, you have to be comfortable and smart. Sometimes you might think you have it, but you don’t, so I just need to come out and play the game how it needs to be played.

“I like to set up my blocks. The guys up front are going to block their tails off. I just wanted to set up the blocks and make it a little easier on them, and then once I did set up the blocks, I just wanted to hit the seam, hit it as fast I can and just take it to the end zone.”

Murphy reflected on his first opportunity, saying he needs to focus and judge the ball better.  “I’ve got to be accountable. I’ve got to take care of the ball, and just luckily I got a second chance.”

The New Orleans Saints have been one of the least productive teams in the return game for several years and counting, but Marcus Murphy looks to finally be giving that unit a heartbeat.  It’s something the struggling team will need all season long to set up good field position for the offense.

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