Frost's critics should chill out

The veteran punter has posted better numbers than Ryan, and he tells Packer Report's Matt Tevsh that better kicks are ahead.

Though punter Derrick Frost would be the first to admit he needs to perform better, reports that his job may be in jeopardy after just four games with the Packers are much too critical and much too premature.

The five-year NFL veteran, who may have added fuel to the fire with recent self-critical comments, was feeling much better about his prospects on Wednesday in preparation for Sunday's game with the Falcons at Lambeau Field.

"This week I'm really looking to have a great game," said Frost. "I've had a great two weeks of practice. I had a great day today. We saw some things on film that we think were hurting my technique and I think we can eliminate that this week."

Frost had one of his worst games as a professional on Sunday against the Buccaneers, and he let a snapped ball go through his hands for a safety against the Lions in Week 2, but his letdowns have been overblown. He has proven to be a better weapon than Jon Ryan, the incumbent punter who was released by the Packers on Sept. 1.

"There's definitely a lot to work with," coach Mike McCarthy said of Frost. "I think he's talented. I think his first impression was very high, and we need to get back to that. It's not a matter of can he punt. It's the consistency that we're looking for, and that's part of the reason why we made the change."

In the season opener against the Vikings, Frost routinely pinned Vikings returners against the sideline, effectively cutting the field in half for his coverage team. Only one of his five punts in that game was returned for more than 3 yards. He flashed his reputation as directional punter in Week 3 against the Cowboys, too, not to mention getting off a 65-yard bomb, the longest of his career.

As much as anything last week though, the Packers' punting unit failed together.

"I want the ball kicked inside the 20," said McCarthy. "The coordination between the punter and the cover guys we need to improve at. It's never usually just one aspect when something's not the way you want it. We need to do a better job. We didn't do a very good job in punt protection last week and that's been a staple for us. So, everybody got a big kick in the butt, and it showed up (Wednesday) at practice."

Two of Frost's punts against the Buccaneers (a 36- and 38-yarder backed up near his end zone) gave Tampa Bay's offense short fields. On two other punts, Frost was unable to pin the Buccaneers inside the 20-yard line when he should have.

"Special teams is really all about momentum, and I was unable to deliver," said Frost. "I'm most disappointed in the situations that I haven't come through on. I really think I'm one of the best at getting the ball inside the 20, and I've done a horrible job doing that."

Being horrible, however, relates to the standards that Frost has set for himself. Yes, only one of Frost's 19 punts this season (5.3 percent) have been inside the 20, but his career numbers would suggest he will find more consistency soon. In four previous seasons (with the Browns and Redskins), 30.9 percent of his punts (98 of 317) ended up inside the 20.

By contrast, Ryan put just 24.3 percent of his punts (35 of 144) inside the 20 over the past two seasons in Green Bay.

Frost also has three touchbacks this season, but has never had more than seven in any one season.

Ryan had 12 and 11 touchbacks, respectively, in two years.

"I've hit some good pooch punts coming in, I just haven't given the guys quite enough room," said Frost. "I've put them at the 7 to 4 (yard line). If I could put them at the 8, to 9 or 10 (yard line), give them a yard or two or more space to work with, but those balls were quality balls, some of the better hang-time balls that I've hit."

The Packers have surprisingly given up little in distance with Frost as well. Frost is averaging 44.9 yards per punt with a net of 37.9. Ryan was lower than both of those marks over his career.

Because Frost came in with a reputation and that Ryan was a popular player on the field and in the community, coaches and fans seems to be expecting more from their new punter. They should see better results in the coming weeks.

"I'm a fiery competitor, and a lot of guys on this team don't really know that yet," said Frost. "There's just a lot of things that have frustrated me. This week I'm just really looking for a great game."

Matt Tevsh is a frequent contributor to Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com. E-mail him at matttevsh@hotmail.com


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