Dec 5, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Denver Broncos punter Sam Martin (6) punts the ball against the Kansas City Chiefs during the game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Bills sign P Sam Martin to one-year deal

The Buffalo Bills announced Wednesday night that they signed punter Sam Martin to a one-year deal.

Martin, who was released by the Denver Broncos on Monday, fills the opening stemming from Saturday’s release of rookie Matt Araiza.

Buffalo released Araiza, a sixth-round draft choice, two days after a civil suit was filed accusing him of being involved in a gang rape last season at San Diego State.

Martin was reportedly let go by Denver after expressing he would not take a pay reduction from this season’s $2.25 million salary.

The 32-year-old Martin averaged 46.0 yards for Denver last season, his second with the team. He spent his first seven seasons with the Detroit Lions.

Martin has a 46.1 career average on 605 attempts over 139 NFL games. He was a fifth-round pick in the 2013 draft out of Appalachian State.

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2021; Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores head coach Clark Lea coaches during the second half against the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

Vanderbilt dismisses two players

Vanderbilt freshmen Maurice Edwards and Daniel Martin are no longer part of the program, Commodores coach Clark Lea announced Wednesday.

Edwards is a running back and Martin is a linebacker. Neither player saw action in last Saturday’s 63-10 season-opening victory at Hawaii.

“We take pride in having the highest standards as a program, and in doing so ensure that it is a privilege to be a part of this team,” Lea said in a statement. “A strong ecosystem will undoubtedly strengthen our program’s performance on and off the field, and this ecosystem is my responsibility.”

Vanderbilt is back in action on Saturday when it hosts Elon.

Lea said the departures will have no effect on the program.

“With respect to what it means moving forward, this program is going to be fine,” Lea said. “We’re not defined by any one person in the program. … We have a lot of guys in the locker room that we lean upon who are going to step into roles moving forward. We’re not going to bat an eye.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 26, 2021; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus (8) attempts a field goal out of the hold of punter Sam Martin (6) against the Las Vegas Raiders in the first half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos activate K Brandon McManus, P Sam Martin off COVID list

The Denver Broncos activated kicker Brandon McManus and punter Sam Martin from the COVID-19 list on Friday in hopes of having both specialists on the field for Saturday’s season-ending home game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Broncos activated the duo prior to Friday’s deadline but they indicated both players still need to clear protocol on Saturday to play against the Chiefs.

Denver coach Vic Fangio said Thursday there was a contingency plan in case McManus and Martin were unavailable but he declined to detail it to reporters.

McManus has made 25 of 30 field-goal attempts this season in his eighth season with the Broncos. The 30-year-old is 194 of 237 (81.9 percent) in 126 career regular-season games.

Martin, 31, has a 45.9 average this season and has placed 26 of his 64 punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line. He has a career 46.1 average in 138 regular-season games over nine seasons with the Detroit Lions (2013-19) and Broncos (2020-21).

Denver placed cornerbacks Pat Surtain II (calf) and Ronald Darby (shoulder) on injured reserve to open up roster spots. Both players were ruled out of the game earlier in the week.

–Field Level Media

Sep 22, 2019; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Tyron Smith (77) and running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) and quarterback Dak Prescott (4) watch a pass against the Miami Dolphins at the end of the second quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys gain $18.9M in OL restructures

Sep 27, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints cornerback Janoris Jenkins (20) against the Green Bay Packers during the second quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Three of the five starting offensive linemen for the Dallas Cowboys adjusted their contracts to free up a total of $18.975 million on Thursday.

The Cowboys officially restructured the contracts of left tackle Tyron Smith, right tackle La’el Collins and guard Zack Martin, per multiple reports.

The Cowboys were down to around $1 million in available cap prior to the moves, NFL Network reported.

Injuries impacted all three blockers last season.

Smith, who played in only two games, was rumored to be considering retirement, but the Cowboys are planning for his return.

Martin played in 10 games but wound up on injured reserve with a knee injury.

Collins played 15 games last season after starting all 16 his previous two seasons.

–Field Level Media

Dec 31, 2020; Fort Worth, TX, USA; The Mississippi State Bulldogs and Tulsa Golden Hurricane teams fight after the game at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Postgame brawl mars Tulsa-Mississippi State bowl game

An ugly postgame brawl erupted after the Armed Forces Bowl between No. 24 Tulsa and Mississippi State on Thursday and at least one player was injured.

Tulsa safety Kendarin Ray was helped off the field after reportedly being hit in the head by a helmet. Golden Hurricane coach Philip Montgomery said Ray is being treated for a concussion.

Video of the brawl show players from both sides throwing punches and even a few are seen delivering kicks. Coaching staffs of both teams were powerless to stop it and Fort Worth security and law enforcement personnel were on the field trying to calm the situation.

After Tulsa safety Tieneal Martin threw some punches and fell to the ground, Mississippi State receiver Malik Heath can be seen delivering a kick to Martin’s facemask.

Montgomery says his players were just sticking up for one another.

“The one thing I’ll say is our program, our guys, we’re a team that is going to stand up for each other and we’re going to battle,” Montgomery said. “We’re a team that has battled all year long. We battled again today.”

The teams also had to be separated prior to the game, so tensions were high throughout Mississippi State’s 28-26 victory.

Afterward, Bulldogs coach Mike Leach implied his team wasn’t the cause of the incidents.

“I’m not sure what exactly caused that,” Leach said of the postgame skirmish. “There was something before the game, too. We never had any problem with that the entire season, so you know, I can only guess without seeing the film.

“But prior to this game, we’ve never had any trouble with that.”

Asked how he would address it with this team, Leach said, “Don’t do it anymore. It’s just dumb. There was some of that stuff going back and forth in the course of the game.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 25, 2020; Landover, Maryland, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton (14) is hit by Washington Football Team inside linebacker Jon Bostic (53) and knocked out of the game in the third quarter at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Dalton in protocol, Cowboys get OG Martin back

Dallas Cowboys All-Pro guard Zack Martin is back at practice after missing last week’s game with a concussion.

But starting quarterback Andy Dalton, who attended a team meeting at the team’s Frisco headquarters on Wednesday, remains in the NFL’s concussion protocol. He is unlikely to be cleared until the “end of the week at the earliest,” head coach Mike McCarthy said.

Dalton is not permitted to attend position meetings with the team’s quarterbacks while in concussion protocol.

Martin and center Joe Looney, who has been out since Oct. 4 with a sprained MCL, are both expected to play for the Cowboys (2-5) on Sunday night against the Philadelphia Eagles (2-4-1).

Offensive line play has been a problem for the Cowboys, who are without left tackle Tyron Smith (neck) for the rest of the season.

Dalton was concussed in the Week 7 loss to the Washington Football Team on a hit by linebacker Jon Bostic. Dalton went into a slide and, with his knee on the ground, Bostic plowed his shoulder into Dalton’s facemask. The result was Dalton’s first documented NFL concussion, and an ejection from the game for Bostic.

Rookie Ben DiNucci is Dalton’s backup and finished the 25-3 loss to Washington on Sunday. He’s in line to start if Dalton isn’t cleared.

Dalton started the past two games with Dak Prescott (ankle) out for the season.

–Field Level Media