Packers pull plug on punter

The Green Bay Packers, at least for now, awarded the punting job to Jon Ryan by releasing former third-round draft pick B.J. Sander. The Packers also released linebacker Kevin Schimmelmann, who has been sidelined with an injury.

By releasing Sander, who has struggled in each of the past two seasons, Ryan will serve as Green Bay's only punter. Whether the Packers retain the Canadian or not likely depends on how well he punts in each of the final two preseason games. There is always a possibility that Ryan could be replaced by a punter released by another team as cutdowns are made in the next two weeks around the league, but for now, he's the main man.

"We felt that this guy's got a tremendous upside, great potential and we're going to see if he can seize the moment, if you will," said special teams coordinator Mike Stock.

Sander, a 6-foot-4, 218-pound veteran from Ohio State, was the Packers' third of three selections in the third round of the 2004 draft after winning the Ray Guy award as the nation's top collegiate punter. Last season, he averaged 39.2 gross yards on 64 punts, with 11 inside the 20 and two touchbacks. He finished the season on injured reserve with a fracture in his kicking leg.

In 2004, Sander was on the team's roster but never punted after struggling in the preseason. The team signed veteran Bryan Barker to handle the punting duties.

Sander had two punts in Saturday's preseason game against Atlanta, averaging 46.5 yards. His 61-yard punt rolled into the end zone for a touchback. Ryan dropped the snap in his only punt attempt, but was able to field the ball and get off a 42-yard punt from the Packers' own end zone.

He'll get more opportunities to punt Aug. 28 on Monday Night Football against the Bengals in Cincinnati.

"We're going to play a Monday Night Football game; the spotlight's going to be there," said Stock. "We'll see how he does."

Schimmelmann was signed as a non-drafted free agent out of Stanford in May. He sustained a shoulder injury in training camp last week and was not able to play Saturday against the Atlanta Falcons.

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