Jonathan Martin isn’t interested in discussing what happened to him in Miami.
The Carolina Panthers’ newest offensive tackle would rather talk about what he hopes to do in Charlotte.
That is to say, get familiar with his third team in as many seasons, compete for a starting job and put more distance between himself and the ugly bullying scandal that to this point has been the defining moment of his three-year career.
“All that’s in the past. My focus has always been just moving forward to what’s next,” Martin said Monday during a conference call with Charlotte reporters. “Now after I’ve spent a year in San Francisco I’m with the Panthers, and just looking forward to my opportunity and making the most of it.”
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The Panthers claimed Martin on waivers from San Francisco last week. He’s expected to compete with Nate Chandler for the backup spot behind starting right tackle Mike Remmers.
But with 32 career starts and experience at both tackle spots, Martin said he’s not conceding anything.
Asked if his plan was to start for the Panthers, Martin said: “I think that’s always your intention as a football player. If your goal isn’t to be the best every time you step on the field, then you really have no business being in this business. I’m looking forward to competing with these guys and showing them what I can do.”
Martin started all 16 games as a rookie in 2012 after the Dolphins drafted him in the second round out of Stanford, where he blocked for former Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck.
Martin was still in the starting lineup in 2013 when he left the team in October after being bullied by Richie Incognito and two other offensive lineman – Mike Pouncey and John Jerry.
Independent investigator Ted Wells found that Martin was subjected to a pattern of harassment that included racially charged insults and sexually explicit remarks about Martin’s mother and sister.
Martin told investigators he considered suicide in 2013 as a result of the bullying.
But Martin said he’s tried to move past that episode since he was traded from the Dolphins to San Francisco for a conditional seventh-round draft pick last offseason.
“I honestly haven’t given it much thought since all that,” Martin said. “Just looking forward to each day, and now I’m here at Carolina I’m looking forward to being a member of the Panthers. I’m here to play this great game and do whatever I can to help this team win.”
When he was touring the Panthers’ facilities Monday at Bank of America Stadium, Martin bumped into middle linebacker Luke Kuechly, whom he had met on the college football awards circuit three years ago when both were leaving school.
“It was good to see him,” Martin said. “He’s a great guy.”
Martin said he didn’t have many other connections on the Panthers’ roster, but added he’s looking forward to working with offensive line coach John Matsko.
Incognito, who was suspended for three months as a result of the bullying, was out of the league for parts of two seasons before Buffalo signed him to a one-year deal in February.
Martin took the high road when asked about Incognito returning to the NFL.
“That situation’s in the past. I don’t think about it. I try not to pay attention to headlines positive or negative, either way,” he said. “I just focus on what I can do with my career moving forward.”
Martin, 6-5 and 315 pounds, started nine games at right tackle for the 49ers last season. He said he’s not sure why San Francisco waived him.
But he’s glad to have a shot with the Panthers, who will pay Martin $1 million after picking up the final year of his contract.
“It’s been up and down in places. At this point in my career I’m just trying to work on consistency,” Martin said. “I have some experience starting in this league so far. I’m still a young player. I’ve been lucky enough to be healthy so far, knock on wood. I’m just looking forward to maximizing my potential and continuing to get better everyday.”
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