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Lions' trash-talking kicker eyes NFL

Some might call it cutthroat. Columbus Lions kicker Carlos Martinez sees his competitive attitude as job security.

“Wes Wilson, any time, any place,” was how Martinez described his direct approach to competing for the Lions’ starting job with the team’s former kicker.

The NFL practice-squad and preseason-team veteran has the same mentality heading into his second workout with the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday, when he believes he has his best chance yet to make an NFL team.

“I’ve been doing this long enough that I know what they’re looking for, and I know I have ability to compete for a starting job in the NFL,” Martinez said. “They just want to see me go in there and make contact every time and make some solid kicks. It’s all about not having bad days. You just can’t have an off day in that league, and I think I’m that consistent.”

Martinez earned a second trip to Kansas City, Mo., after putting in a strong workout and making all 13 field-goal attempts. This time, he’ll compete with the Chiefs’ Connor Barth and free agent Mark Meyers, who kicked for Florida Atlantic and did a stint with the New York Jets last year.

“I’m not officially signed or anything yet, but they asked me back to this veterans mini-camp,” Martinez said. “Hopefully, I’ll get signed after this. I know I can kick at this level; I just have to prove it again.”

Martinez has spent time with the Atlanta Falcons, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys between his indoor football travels but never has played in a regular-season NFL game.

The Buena Vista University (Storm Lake, Iowa) grad will be difficult to replace for the Lions. He was the league’s leading scorer for several weeks this season and is averaging 15 points per game. But he may have found his replacement.

Lions coach Jason Gibson signed former Iowa State kicker Tony Yelk this week on Martinez’ recommendation. Now, it’s up to Yelk to keep the position. Martinez could return to his spot in the lineup if he doesn’t make the cut in Kansas City, Gibson said.

Yelk was not deterred.

“Carlos called me to remind me of how well he’s been playing, so I know I will have to do just as good,” Yelk said. “But I told him I wished him good luck getting signed but not to expect his job to be here for him if he comes back.”

Yelk and Martinez first met at a college kicking clinic and again at a Falcons training camp, where Yelk shared a room with Lions receiver Troy Bergeron, a former Shaw standout. The three played together on a recreational softball team in Atlanta last year.

“Everyone’s told me it’s a great atmosphere (in Columbus) and the fans are great,” Yelk said. “I can’t wait to get out there and get kicking again.”

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