He stood by quietly, holding David Akers' helmet as the Eagles ran kicking drills. It wasn't rookie's work or hazing or anything like that. But it was symbolic.
Akers is the Philadelphia Eagles' kicker. Carlos Martinez is Akers' backup who probably won't be back. So while he's here at Eagles camp at Lehigh University, Martinez is soaking the backstory of a guy who once was like him.
''It took me three years to make it, and I wasn't a much different kicker than when I started,'' said Akers, a two-time Pro Bowler. ''Carlos is going to learn how crazy it is.''
Martinez, 23, arrived at camp Friday, still thinking about the one field goal he missed during two minicamps this spring. A day earlier, Eagles coach Andy Reid had said that just about every position on the roster had some level of competition.
''With the exception of kicker,'' Reid added.
Martinez isn't going to challenge Akers, beginning the third year of seven-year contract extension, for the starting job. He was invited to camp essentially because he's left-footed like Akers. When he takes reps, holder Koy Detmer doesn't have to switch sides to accommodate a right-footed kicker.
But for a former all-American from Division III Buena Vista University, that's window enough. Martinez isn't competing for this job. He's auditioning for future jobs. Just like Akers did for three years before landing his role with the Eagles.
Akers needed two full training camps, a stint in NFL Europe and jobs in between as a substitute teacher and a waiter at a Georgia steakhouse to climb the ladder. If he can teach Martinez anything, it's the value of patience.
''It may happen next week, next year or in five years,'' Akers said. ''You just never know in this league. I may not be here next week. You never know what management is thinking. He just has to punch the clock and not expect things to happen right away.''
Martinez, the only Division III kicker currently on an NFL roster, set Nebraska kicking records at Papillion-LaVista High and was pursued by several Division I schools (Nebraska, Michigan and Purdue among them). But for some reason, he said, Martinez waited too long to commit, missed his chance and ultimately chose to attend Buena Vista, located in northwest Iowa.
The former Nebraska state high school wrestling champ was a three-time all-American at Buena Vista, kicking a school-record 48 field goals (second all-time in Division III). He was named MVP of the 2001 Aztec Bowl, an all-star game between Division III players and Mexico, after punting eight times for a 55-yard average.
Following a stint with the Fresno Frenzy in arenafootball2, Martinez was invited to a kickers combine in Reno. The Eagles saw him there, brought him to an April tryout in Philadelphia and signed him over a Division I kicker.
Martinez harbors few illusions about competing with Akers ''The best kicker in the league,'' he said but does believe he can kick in the NFL.
''Any opportunity I can get to stand out, I'll take it,'' Martinez said. ''I watch David all the time. He tells me I should be able to make it as a kicker in this league.''
So far, Martinez has been impressive on occasion. During the minicamps he made 13 of 14 attempts the miss still haunts him and the coaches have been surprised to see his kickoffs reach the end zone.
''I hear people say that some coaches don't talk to kickers like me,'' Martinez said. ''But coach Reid has even talked to me, so I'm thankful for that.''
As a 9-year-old boy, Martinez watched Morten Anderson kick field goals for the New Orleans Saints and decided he wanted to do that for a living. It's unlikely to happen here or now. But Martinez isn't wavering.
''I think I can compete in the NFL,'' he said. ''I just have to go through the process.''
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