Packers sign free agent punter

The Green Bay Packers signed punter Travis Hale Tuesday to compete against Travis Dorsch. In another move, Green Bay released wide receiver Travis Williams.<p>

Hale, 23, and Dorsch are the current candidates to replace Josh Bidwell, who signed as an unrestricted free agent with Tampa Bay last week. The Packers also are expected to sign other punters either before or after the NFL draft in April.

The Packers had former Dallas punter Toby Gowin in Green Bay for a visit last week, but signed Hale, who had surgery on his right knee after his 2002 senior season at Rice. Hale was unable to work out for scouts before the 2003 NFL Draft and was out of football last season. He enters 2004 as a rookie.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Hale was Rice's punter for four seasons (1999-2002) and averaged 40.6 yards on 165 career punts. As a junior in 2001, he booted a pair of 70-yard punts, including a career-long 77-yarder. All Western Athletic Conference as a sophomore (2000), he led the conference in punting (41.8-yard average).

Williams spent the entire 2003 season on Green Bay's reserve/non-football injury/NFL Europe list.

Also Tuesday, the Packers announced a tentative preseason kickoff at Tennessee (Friday, Sept. 3 at 7 p.m. CDT).

The days and starting times for the Week 2 home game against New Orleans and the Week 3 road game against Jacksonville have yet to be determined.

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