When the Green Bay Packers released Peter Mortell, coach Mike McCarthy proclaimed Tim Masthay in the “driver’s seat” in the punting competition.
A couple days later, Masthay was released.
After Thursday’s preseason game against Kansas City, new punter Jacob Schum is in the driver’s seat to be the team’s punter for Week 1 at Jacksonville.
This time, that fact won’t change when the team puts together its 53-man roster in time for Saturday’s deadline.
Claimed off waivers on Tuesday from Tampa Bay, where he put up so-so numbers last season and was beaten out by Bryan Anger this summer, Schum had a tremendous debut. Kept busy by an inept offense, Schum punted eight times and averaged 45.5 yards per kick. More importantly, with a hang time that averaged a lofty 4.65 seconds, his net was a lofty 41.3 – a figure hurt by a 57-yard touchback. The Chiefs had just 14 return yards, as Schum averaged 4.65 seconds of hang time. His worst hang time was 4.25 seconds and he topped 4.90 three times.
“Every day is a tryout,” Schum said. “I just have to go out and perform. You’re expected to do your job and practice what we do every single day. You have to have that same mind-set and perform under the lights.”
Schum got off to a strong start, with an Aussie-style punt that went 32 yards and resulted in a fair catch at the 9. His next was a 44-yarder with 5.11 seconds of hang time that again pinned the Chiefs at their 9. His third punt was the 57-yarder that barely trickled into the end zone. His final punt of the first half went 51 yards with 4.61 hang time that helped limit the return to 8 yards.
“What you’re expected to do as a punter is change field position and get good directional hang-time distance,” he said. “That’s what I expect every day.”
His worst punt was his fifth – and the first of the second half – a 37-yarder with 4.43 seconds of hang time that failed to put the Chiefs in a field-position hole. His next punt was a better, a 45-yarder with 4.66 hang time that stuck the Chiefs at their 12 for his third inside-the-20 punt of the night. Schum’s seventh punt went 46 yards with 4.25 hang time and his eighth and final punt went 52 yards with 4.96 seconds of hang time that helped limit the return to 6 yards.
“I thought he did a lot of good things,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after the game. “Really, Jacob, for being with us for two days, punted well at practice yesterday and I thought he continued that tonight. Most important, I think the ball placement outside the numbers was what we were looking for and he accomplished that.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.