Lefty (who isn’t really a lefty) challenges Matt Darr for Miami Dolphins’ punting job

Matt Darr (above) is challenged by undrafted rookie Matt Haack this preseason. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

DAVIE — The Dolphins’ punting competition is going down to the wire thanks to a left-footed rookie who actually isn’t a lefty.

Matt Haack, undrafted out of Arizona State, is challenging third-year veteran Matt Darr. With only Thursday’s preseason finale at Minnesota remaining before Saturday’s cut-down day, Haack has an edge in statistics and also may have what’s considered an edge in that he punts with his left foot, creating a reverse spin that can be tricky to field.

The strange part: It’s the only thing Haack does as a lefty. He writes right-handed. Bats, throws and eats righty, too.

But when it comes to punting, it feels natural coming off his left foot.

“It’s weird, but it’s worked for me,” Haack said.

He really has no explanation.

“I always did go to my left for some reason and I stuck with it forever,” he said.

Is it that big a deal for opponents?

“Well, I’ve never had to catch my own punt, but from what I hear, it is a little tricky,” he said.

Haack is averaging 46.5 yards on 10 punts in preseason with a 43.7 net average and a long of 63. Darr is averaging 43.2 with a 33.0 net and a long of 52. But those numbers are skewed because Darr has five punts inside the 20 and Haack two.

“It’s competitive,” coach Adam Gase said. “It’s good to see both those guys hitting the ball the way they have been. In practice, we get a lot more looks, and (it is) very competitive. In games, we’ve seen both guys really hit some really good ones. We’re just going to keep letting those guys compete until the end.”

Darr said it’s “a little bit different” seeing another punter in practice.

“The good thing is you’re not wearing yourself out in preseason,” Darr said. “But at the same time you’ve got to take advantage of the reps because you don’t get as many.”

Darr’s average dropped last season to 44.3 from 47.6 as a rookie. But his other numbers improved, including his net average (39.9, up from 39.7), punts downed inside the 20-yard line (32, up from 30) and the number of punts returned (only 37, down from 50).

Haack placed sixth in the nation last season with a net average of 42 yards.

Darr, who obviously has experience on his side, is upbeat as the big day approaches.

“I feel confident,” he said. “It’s always a privilege to be out here and I never take that for granted. So I make each day count.”

Darr wouldn’t be surprised if both men are punting on Sundays this fall somewhere.

“He has a talented leg and I think he has what it takes to play in this league,” Darr said of Haack.

Haack said he’s trying not to worry about Saturday.

“I’m keeping the same mindset as I have been this whole time, controlling what I can control,” he said.

What Adam Gase said after Monday’s practice

Gase tells Landry there’s ‘no chance’ he’ll be traded

Follow Hal Habib on Twitter

Ignore speculation that the Dolphins are listening to offers for Jarvis Landry

Miami Dolphins: Rookie DE Charles Harris still ‘developing’ and ‘learning’

Get Dolphins stories right to your Facebook by liking this page

 

LIVE EVENT!

The Daily Dolphin Live: Join the Conversation

Join our reporters for a special evening as they talk NFL with Dolphins Pro Bowl Guard Jermon Bushrod, two-time Super Bowl champion Bob Kuechenberg and former Dolphins Pro Bowl linebacker Kim Bokamper on Tuesday, Sept. 5 at 6:30 p.m. at Bokamper’s Fort Lauderdale. The event is free to the first 100 people and will include raffles, light bites and drinks.


Reader Comments 0

0 comments