Barker passes Sander on depth chart

The battle isn't over, but the veteran is leading the rookie in the battle to be the punter Monday night at Carolina.

Fifteen-year veteran Bryan Barker is ahead of third-round pick B.J. Sander on the depth chart, Sander admitted after Monday's practice.

"Right now, Bryan is No. 1 on the depth chart, and we'll go through practice this week and see what happens," Sander said.

Assuming Barker is the punter this week, that status isn't secure. If Barker remains on the roster by 3 p.m. Saturday, he's due his entire $760,000 salary — $455,000 of which will count against the salary cap.

Barker says he's worth the money.

"We're not talking about millions of dollars. If there's going to be a commitment to me to help this team win and to help B.J. become a better punter, minimum salary, with a third-year value ($455,000) for the salary cap is not a lot to absorb," Barker said.

On the surface, the obvious solution to the two-headed punter conundrum is to go with the steady veteran and cut Sander and sign him to the practice squad. That's easier said than done, Packers coach Mike Sherman explained Sunday, because if Sander is signed by another team — which he said was a definite possibility — the Packers would have to absorb his entire signing bonus on this year's cap, $583,625.

Besides, Sherman said, "I think he'll be a good punter."

Barker, signed as a free agent after the second preseason game, clearly was the better man during the preseason, averaging 42.4 yards (35.9 net) in eight punts.

Sander, meanwhile, ranked 32nd in the 32-team league in preseason punting in both average (36.0 yards) and net (30.8). Despite those horrible numbers, and no doubt with his 5-yard shank Friday at Tennessee still in his head, Sander remains confident he can do the job.

"I have all the confidence in the world that I can go out and do it," he added. "But until the coaches have that confidence in me and they think I'm ready, I'll be behind him."

As absurd as it sounds to keep two punters, Sherman on Sunday pointed to the San Diego Chargers doing just that last year. They kept the veteran Darren Bennett to help fifth-round pick Mike Scifres. Bennett is now in Minnesota while Scifres won the Chargers job despite averaging 39.7 (34.7 net) per punt.

For what it's worth, Carolina punter Todd Sauerbrun averaged a league-best 47.2 yards per punt during the preseason.

Packer Report Top Stories