Punter struggles in scrimmage

B.J. Sander was determined to light up the night with some booming punts during the Green Bay Packers' most glorified practice of training camp Saturday. Instead, the rookie fizzled with each attempt.<p>

So much for impressing his new bosses, all 60,216 who filed into Lambeau Field for the team's Family Night intra-squad scrimmage. Sander averaged just 27.3 yards per punt on three attempts. His longest punt of the scrimmage was 36 yards, when the punting unit practiced kicking out of its own end zone. Sander's Saturday night is hardly what the Packers had in mind when they selected him with the third of three third-round picks in this year's NFL Draft (87th overall).

The Packers are hoping Sander can fill the void left by Josh Bidwell, who signed as an unrestricted free agent with Tampa Bay this off-season.

Sander was disappointed afterward, yet positive and thankful that the disappointing performance occurred during a practice. He'll get a chance to redeem himself in Green Bay's exhibition opener Aug. 16 at home against the Seattle Seahawks.

"I wanted to go out and show everybody why the Packers picked me so high and what I can do. I think I tried a little bit too hard," Sander said.

"I was trying to kill the ball, especially the one out of the end zone. I'm glad we got this one out of the way. I'll be ready for Monday night next week."

Last season at Ohio State, Sander averaged 43.3 yards per punt and landed 39 punts inside the opponents' 20 yard line, the most in the country. The left-footed Sander won the Ray Guy Award, presented annually to the best collegiate punter, but he punted more like a regular guy during the scrimmage.

Coach and general manager Mike Sherman was not overly concerned with Sander's intra-squad performance. "He had a great week of practice," Sherman said. "He'll be fine. I think the tried to overkick the ball today and didn't kick it great. I think he'll be fine. He had an unbelievable week."

Sander is currently competing against free agent Nathan Chapman. The Australian punter received only one chance to punt in the scrimmage, but made the most of it with a booming 53-yarder down the middle of the field.

Sander says he will learn from Saturday night's practice.

"If I just stay within myself, if I do what I'm capable of doing, I'll be fine," he said.


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