On the surface, Green Bay Packers punter Tim Masthay had a big day kicking the ball on Wednesday.
On 13 punts — six against the punt-return unit and seven with the punt team — Masthay averaged 48.2 yards with 4.14 seconds of hang time. However, while four of the punts were at least 56 yards with hang time of more than 4.5 seconds, he also had four bad punts with hang times of 3.66 seconds or worse.
“You’re right, he was a little inconsistent,” special teams coordinator Ron Zook said on Wednesday afternoon.
Of 32 punters with at least five attempts this preseason, Masthay ranks 31st in gross average (40.7) and 17th in net (38.8). At Pittsburgh on Sunday, Masthay averaged 43.3 with a net of 40.6 on eight attempts. His first punt went just 36 yards and his second was 51 for a touchback. He bounced back with four consecutive big punts, including a 56-yard bomb with no return, but finished with kicks of 39 and 29 yards.
“I thought today for the most part was a decent day,” Masthay said. “I was not pleased with the inconsistency I showed in Pittsburgh. I thought the first couple weeks of camp were decent; I thought the next couple weeks were not good enough. Going into the last week, I’m going to try to finish strong. I feel good but I’ve got to go make it happen. Feeling good doesn’t matter if I can’t make it happen.”
After setting the team’s net punt record four consecutive seasons, he ranked just 31st in the league last season. As a response, the Packers signed Cody Mandell after the season. Masthay’s strong start to training camp made him the early winner in that battle. Now, Zook thinks he found something “minute” that will help Masthay get back on track.
“Tim can do it,” Zook said. “Now, he was in a little bit of a rut, and I feel like he’s coming out it, I really do, and we’ve taken the pressure (off). ‘Hey just put the ball down the sideline and let’s go cover it,’ and I think he’s just got to relax and go do it. That’s the biggest thing. It’s funny, like Tim said, he didn’t punt the way he wants to punt against Pittsburgh, but we still had a 41-yard net, which is pretty good, you’ll take that. We’ve got to be consistent with that. He knows it and you just got to go do it.”
Old injuries: WR Javess Blue (shoulder), QB Scott Tolzien (concussion), LT David Bakhtiari (knee), G T.J. Lang (concussion), G Josh Sitton (ankle), TE Justin Perillo (concussion), WR Jared Abbrederis (concussion), WR Jordy Nelson (knee), DE Datone Jones (knee).
Said Bakhtiari, who has missed the last six practices and both preseason games, “It sucks. I’m not a fan of sitting around. I’m too jittery all the time. I mean, I have ADD, so for me to stand around and not do anything, it kills me. That’s why I love my job. I get to run around all day, and I always have more energy than less energy to begin with. For me to tempo down is kind of a struggle, but it kind of teaches me to just deep breaths, inhale and exhale and relax. I’m not that happy right now with the situation, but I’ll be very excited when I can get out there and hit some people.”
Without Abbrederis, Nelson and Blue, the Packers are down to eight receivers. That’s led to an issue at the start of practice, with Jeff Janis (on Tuesday) and Myles White (on Wednesday) having to work with the service team against the defense rather than with the offense this week.
New injuries: RB Alonzo Harris (hand). Harris dropped out during practice.
There is no practice on Thursday and no public practice on Friday leading to Saturday’s game against Philadelphia, which is set for a 7 p.m. kickoff. After that, only one public practice remains in training camp: 11:45 a.m. on Monday.
A backups vs. backups two-minute drive went nowhere. Brett Hundley hit Myles White for two short completions and Jimmie Hunt for a third but the drive died with a Bruce Gaston sack with time winding down and no timeouts remaining. ... With the three starting linemen out, the No. 1 unit had Don Barclay at left tackle, Lane Taylor at left guard, Corey Linsley at center, Josh Walker at right guard and Bryan Bulaga at right tackle. ... For the second consecutive day, Carl Bradford and Nate Palmer formed the No. 2 duo at inside linebacker with Jake Ryan and Joe Thomas the No. 3 pairing. ... Mason Crosby hit all six field-goal attempts, ranging from the 33-yard extra point to a 52-yarder. ... Using his quickness, Mike Neal had two tackles for losses during the half-line drill.
GM TED THOMPSON SAID …
“You lose players in this game sometimes, and you have to go on. You have to go to the next page or turn the next page, whatever. But you have extraordinary players, someone like Jordy. With an extraordinary player you don’t expect to replace the person tit for tat, one for one or anything like that. I think it will command the work of the entire offense and the entire team to make up for that loss. But that’s our goal going forward is to be able to win games, be successful in spite of the very disappointing injury. It’s as simple as that. It’s as difficult as that.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.