Undrafted rookie Darr ousts veteran Fields as Dolphins punter
DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — The Miami Dolphins’ locker room has been so crowded during the exhibition season that undrafted rookie Matt Darr was forced to share a stall with another player.
Darr earned more elbow room Tuesday, when he won the punting job as a successor to eight-year veteran Brandon Fields, who was released.
Fields made the Pro Bowl in 2013, and his career average of 46.8 yards is the fourth-highest in NFL history. He averaged 46.3 yards last season, but his net average of 38.6 ranked only 25th in the league.
"Brandon is a great punter," Darr said. "If I have half the career he has had, I’ll be happy."
Darr is a late bloomer. He took up the shot put and discus in seventh grade and won high school state titles in both events in Tennessee. He didn’t begin punting until high school.
At the University of Tennessee, Darr was the backup punter as a junior, and last year he averaged a so-so 42.2 yards. But he has impressed the Dolphins since signing with them in May.
"I’ve come a long way," he said. "I always believed in myself, and today is testimony to all that."
The switch in punters creates about $500,000 in salary cap space, but coach Joe Philbin said Darr won the job because of the way he has kicked.
"We felt that he was going to be the best option at punter in 2015," Philbin said. "Really it’s not that much more complicated than that."
The Dolphins have yet to choose between incumbent placekicker Caleb Sturgis and his rookie challenger, Andrew Franks.