Jets rookie punter Braden Mann entered the NFL with a mantra: Expect the unexpected.
"It goes from anything that happens with our schedule [because of the coronavirus] to midgame," he said. "It could be a change in protocol with COVID and especially with that, you have to expect the unexpected. It can mess up your rhythm a little bit each week and there aren't really things you can do outside of football now, so you have to maintain focus and roll with the punches. I know anything happens in a normal year, but this is magnified."
In terms of his play, Mann, the team's sixth-round pick, anticipated he'd punt and handle kickoffs like he did at Texas A&M. He punted from Day 1 and he started handling kickoffs in Week 7 when Sam Ficken injured his groin. Mann, the Ray Guy Award winner in 2018, has had a rookie learning curve just like any position. Through 10 games, he leads the NFL with 50 punts for 2,239 yards (44.8 avg).
"I think I've adjusted to the game a little more and gotten more comfortable as the season has gone on," he said. "There were some games there where I didn't put our guys in the best position whether it was our gunners and whomever was going down there to tackle. Now, we're starting to click and have that rhythm and chemistry to us. I think it's all really coming together."
Speaking about special teams coordinator Brant Boyer: "We're working on a few different punts that we've watched some film on. He doesn't consider himself a specialists coach, but he's worked with a lot of specialists and he's picked some things up and has given me some advice whether it's taking my steps differently or holding the ball differently on these kinds of punts. It's just some stuff that's a little more advanced that a lot of the big-time NFL guys have been doing for a little bit. I'm trying to learn as fast as I can."
Mann has an appetite to constantly improve and has been learning what he can from Ficken, who's been with six teams since 2016; LS Thomas Hennessey, who's been with the Green & White since 2017; and Sergio Castillo, who's kicked professionally since 2014 in the NFL, Canadian Football League, XFL and Alliance of American Football.
"They taught me a lot," Mann said. "It's just kind of small things you wouldn't really notice, especially the differencent from college to the NFL. Whether it be a certain look that guys give on punt-block scheme or return scheme. Just giving me helpful pointers about what to look for on certain returners or certain return schemes and helping me relax a little bit.
"Football is still football, but I had to learn to relax a little bit more. I was pretty stressed out at the beginning of the season. They're getting me a lot more comfortable and helping with me a lot of different stuff between punters or kickers they've been with throughout their years, which is really helpful to hear some of the stories they have from a lot of guys."