Braden Mann admits he was apprehensive when got the call for a fake punt on fourth-and-1 late in the first quarter against the Browns last week.
“I was a little nervous,” Mann said. “That’s not what I do. I punt, so I don’t throw. I was a little nervous. When I was going out there, [special teams coordinator Brant] Boyer said, ‘Step into it, don’t baby it, just get it there.’ Jeff [Smith] ran an awesome route. It would have been hard not to throw it near him.”
Mann hit Smith for a 17-yard gain and a first down that gave the Jets momentum on their first touchdown drive of what became a 31-30 win. Mann had a huge game for the Jets and was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week. Besides the fake punt, he put down the successful onside kick near the end of the game and had two punts land inside the 20.
All of that came a week after Mann battled back stiffness during the Jets’ Week 1 loss to the Ravens. Mann had a 20-yard punt in that game that set up a Baltimore score.
“He was battling the back issue in the first game that we talked about,” Boyer said, “and to see him bounce back like that, have two inside the 10 and obviously, have the throw and have the onside [kick], and I thought he punted really well, too. You know I said it all the time and I’ll say it again, I think he’s one of the most talented guys on this team. He can do a lot of stuff, he really can.”
Mann said the fake is one the Jets have practiced “forever.”
“I’m glad we finally got to run it,” he said.
Despite his back issues last week, Mann said he and Smith were able to run through the fake a few times during practice. That was the first time Mann had thrown on a fake punt. He has had two runs on fake punts during his football career.