Matt Ammendola didn’t expect his first snap in an NFL regular season game to be a punt. He signed with the Jets as a placekicker, but he sprung into action when punter Braden Mann injured his knee in New York’s Week 1 loss to the Panthers.
Ammendola trotted onto the field after Mann left with a knee injury following a punt that was called back for an offensive holding penalty. Without hesitation, Ammendola delivered a surprisingly solid punt of 50 yards from the Jets’ own nine-yard line.
That was Ammendola’s first punt ever in a game. He never attempted one in high school or college, and Sunday was his NFL debut.
“It was a whirlwind, just going in,” Ammendola said Monday, per SNY. “You never want to see a teammate go down, especially my punter, my holder. But, you know, sometimes you just got to kind of step in and go about it.”
Ammendola ended up punting six times in the Jets’ Week 1 loss. He averaged 48.5 yards per try, pinned two punts inside the 20-yard line, and finished with a long of 65 yards. Ammendola didn’t attempt a field goal or extra point after the Jets went for the two-point conversation on both touchdowns.
When their starting punter went down, Jets KICKER Matt Ammendola STEPPED UP.
66-yards #KohlsElite // #KohlsHighlights
— Kicking, Punting, Long Snapping Highlights (@KohlsHighlights) September 12, 2021
Despite never punting in a game, Ammendola did practice punting this offseason while training in California.
“Nowadays in the NFL, especially on a lot of teams, they want a guy who’s more versatile. Especially a guy who can do both,” Ammendola said. “So I started kicking and punting.”
But he never imagined he’d put those skills to use so soon in his NFL career.
“First NFL game to go out there and punt was definitely a changeup for sure,” Ammendola added.
It doesn’t sound as though the Jets will ask Ammendola to punt again, though. Mann will miss at least four weeks with a knee sprain, but Robert Saleh said the team plans to bring in someone to punt full-time while Mann recovers.
“I thought Ammendola did a great job,” Saleh said Monday, “but we’re going to work out some guys. I don’t think Braden’s got a surgery situation.”
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