Packers Training Camp Countdown: 24 Days

Every day until the start of camp on July 26, we'll provide one juicy nugget to whet your appetite for the return of football. We'd give you more but the CBA forbids two-a-days. Sorry. Tim Masthay is one of the NFL's best punters, as evidenced by, among other stats, just 24 of his punts were returned.

Punting average is perhaps the most meaningless statistic in football.

Take Tim Masthay, for instance.

The Green Bay Packers' punter averaged 43.5 yards per punt last season, good for just 27th in the league. If you didn't know any better, you might think Masthay was a bad punter in need of a big training camp to keep his job.

Rather, Masthay is one of the NFL's top punters and has earned every penny of last year's contract extension, which will keep him in Green Bay through 2016.

For the third consecutive year, Masthay set the franchise's single-season record for net average, posting a mark of 38.9 in 2012 after 38.6 in 2011 and 37.6 in 2010.

Looking further inside these numbers from, you get an appreciation for Masthay's value to the team.

Of Masthay's 70 punts, only 24 were returned. New England's Zoltan Mesko had the fewest punts returned, 23, but he punted 10 fewer times than Masthay.

Just 34.3 percent of Masthay's punts were returned, good for third in the league behind Chicago's Adam Podlesh (30.9 percent) and Kansas City's Dustin Colquitt (32.5 percent).

Only Podlesh (84) and Mesko (154) yielded fewer return yards than Masthay's 179.

"Stats can be misleading but I think they tell a general story most of the time," Masthay said last year. "If you have a really low opponent return average and low number of punts returned but you're netting 30 yards, that's not winning punting. That's not winning football. My goal as a punter on up-the-field punts, I want to hit — a majority of the time (because) there are different situations where different punts are desirable — but you want to hit medium-distance punts. When I say ‘medium,' I mean anywhere from 40 to 50 with good hang time, because those are the balls that net good yards and flip the field position, but they don't stress the coverage and the coverage has a good chance of making that a fair catch or tackling him right away."

So much of punting is about field position, and that's where Masthay is an asset. Time and again, the Packers have won the field-position battle because Masthay has delivered a clutch punt when backed up near his goal line or he's pinned the opponent deep in its own end of the field.

Even though he ranked 22nd with his 70 punts, he tied for third by coaxing 26 fair catches.

Masthay ranked seventh in the league by pinning the opponent inside the 20-yard line 30 times — a team record — and he tied for fourth by backing up the opponent inside the 10-yard line 14 times. With 30 inside-the-20s vs. five touchbacks, Masthay tied for the 10th-best ratio in the league.

With the three best net punting seasons, the most inside-the-20 punts and the second-fewest touchbacks, Masthay has staked claim to being the best punter in Packers history.

Not that he'd boast about it.

"I don't know if I can say that," he said. "The records are fantastic and I have a tremendous amount of respect for this organization and all the players that have come through here, so to even be mentioned like that is pretty awesome. But I have a long ways to go before you can say that."

Top punters: Inside-the-20 punts vs. touchbacks

Nick Harris (Det): 21 to 1 = 21.0 ratio

Jon Ryan (Sea): 30 to 3 = 10.0

Andy Lee (SF): 36 to 4 = 9.0

Chris Kluwe (Min): 18 to 2 = 9.0

Shawn Powell (Buf): 23 to 3 = 7.67

Matt Bosher (Atl): 22 to 3 = 7.33

Britton Colquitt (Den): 27 to 4 = 6.75

Dustin Colquitt (KC): 45 to 7 = 6.43

Bryan Anger (Jax): 31 to 5 = 6.20

Tim Masthay (GB): 30 to 5 = 6.0

Brett Kern (Ten): 30 to 5 = 6.0

Brian Moorman (Buf/Dal): 24 to 4 = 6.0

Reggie Hodges (Cle) 29 to 5 = 5.80

Dave Zastudil (AZ): 46 to 8 = 5.75

Adam Podlesh (Chi): 34 to 6 = 5.67

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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