SARASOTA, Fla. – Raiders players had free time on Monday afternoon, and most scattered through the Sarasota Ritz Carlton hotel and the surrounding town.
Not Marquette King. The Raiders punter found a baby grand piano and started tickling the ivories. He wasn’t practicing chop sticks. The guy can flat play.
“I’m like Nick Cannon,” King said. “I can’t read music, but I can play what I can hear.”
King can flat punt, too.
While he simplifies his duty to catch it and kick it, it’s a bit more complicated than that. King seems to have mastered the art in his fourth season and the Raiders’ full-time punter.
This season could be his best, and that’s saying something. He’s averaging 42.4 net yards per attempt – the highest of his career – and has put 15 of 34 punts inside the 20-yard line. To top off that excellent stat line, he only has three touchbacks.
King had an excellent day against Jacksonville. He averaged 50.6 net yards over five punts and put four inside the 20. He also made one hard to catch. Jacksonville’s Rashad Greene muffed a punt that Andre Holmes recovered, giving the Raiders the short field required to score an easy touchdown.
Oh, and there was something about a 27-yard run off a bad snap, where he earned a first down with surprising speed.
What was King thinking on that crucial run, one that helped put Jacksonville down on Sunday afternoon?
"I just thought that,” King said, “if I ran fast enough, my ratings would go up on Madden.”
That earned some honors. King was named AFC special teams player of the week on Tuesday morning.
King, a master of social media, came up with a term for doing all that: Punthlete.
That’s an accurate term for someone among the first of his kind, a rare athlete who has become a real weapon for a quality Raiders team.
He can do other things, but earns a great living specializing in one thing.
“There ain’t nothing to really talk about,” King said. “You just catch the ball and punt it. There’s technique to it, but…”
King trailed off at that point. He isn’t interested in talking about his craft. The guy knows how to have a good time, whether it’s acting like a mannequin in a Sarasota Gap store, playing drums with a local band or playing soul music without much effort.
King taught himself how to play piano two seasons ago out of boredom on road trips, and learned the trade pretty fast.
“When I see pianos in the lobby, I just wanted to play it,” King said. “Now that I know how to play it, I can just play.
“I need it myself. It’s therapy.”