Let ‘em Have It

Thomas Morstead is New Orleans Saints Special Teams Special Man
Saints punter Thomas Morstead has been an unsung hero in his 11-year career in New Orleans, but his play in September won him NFC Special Teams Player of the Month. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

 

He was instrumental in, arguably, the greatest play in New Orleans Saints history and, possibly, the NFL’s championship game – especially when how the onside kick to start the second half of Super Bowl XLIV shifted momentum to his team. He was a rookie that year, and he really hasn’t had a challenge to his roster position since he arrived in 2009. For more than a decade, he has been one of the Saints’ best defensive players – even though he, relatively speaking, has some of the most limited time on the gridiron. But national talking heads – and even the Black & Gold Nation – don’t give him the credit he deserves. That seems to be changing in his 11th year in the league.

For the first time in his career, punter Thomas Morstead was been named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Month. For years, his kicks – both punts and kick offs – have helped the Saints win a key element of the game – the field position battle against their opponents.

Maybe his turn in the limelight is due to the sidelining of quarterback Drew Brees, who is out for at least six weeks with a thumb injury on his throwing hand. For the first month of the 2019 season, Morstead has been simply amazing.

He had a breakout performance in Week 3 against the Seattle Seahawks, when he punted six times for 324 yards, averaging 54 yards per kick. Four of those punts were downed inside the Seahawks 20, including two inside the five-yard line. His performance garnered him NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors.

For the season, 11 of his 17 punts have been downed inside the 20-yard line. He is currently ranked No. 3 in the NFL in average yardage per punt (48.8) and No. 5 in net average (44.3). Not a single one of his kicks sailed into the end zone for a touchback, which would put the ball at the opponent’s 25-yard line.

“We felt like it was going to be a field position game throughout,” Saints Coach Sean Payton said after the 33-27 win in Seattle. “I thought we were able to take advantage.”

With four punts against Dallas last week, he pinned the Cowboys inside the 20 twice, giving the defense great field position to work with.

Morstead, 6’4”, 235 pounds, is – along with Brees – just one of two active players remaining from the Saints’ 2009 Super Bowl team. Like his QB, he dove into the local culture and is one of the most proud players to wear the Black & Gold. For years, he lived on the Uptown parade route on St. Charles Avenue, and was seen interacting with fans in the pursuit of throws and revelry.

He is prolific on social media, often giving fans and followers a “behind the scenes” look at the club, including posting photos of the team traveling to and warming up before games, as well as exuberant posts following Saints victories.

He’s also been highly involved in the community. He has been a prolific giver of his time to local charities, through his foundation, What You Give Will Grow, which focuses on children battling cancer.

For a player who sees less playing time the more the Saints score, his impact on the team has been extremely beneficial. A mainstay with the Saints, it’s nice to see Morstead getting the attention he deserves. He’s a team-first player. It would be nice if the Saints can continue to win and get another Super Bowl ring to properly bookend his career.

 

 

Categories: The Pennant Chase

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