The Packers on Tuesday signed seven of their eight practice-squad performers to reserve/future contracts.
They are receivers Brett Swain, Jake Allen and Lorne Sam, center Brennen Carvalho, defensive tackle Fred Bledsoe, cornerback Josh Abrams and punter Durant Brooks.
Players signed to reserve/future contracts will join the regular roster once the new league year begins in late February.
Brooks elected to stick around to challenge Jeremy Kapinos, who was the punter for the final four games after the Packers finally parted ways with Derrick Frost. Kapinos averaged just 39.2 yards with a net of 34.5, but he placed seven of his 17 punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line with one touchback compared to eight inside-the-20s and five touchbacks in 12 games for Frost.
Brooks, signed to the Packers' practice squad on Dec. 15, has strong credentials. He was a sixth-round draft pick by Washington in April after winning the Ray Guy Award as college football's top punter during his senior season at Georgia Tech. After beating out Frost during training camp, Brooks was horrible with the Redskins and, after struggling with a hip/groin injury, was given an injury settlement and waived in mid-October. In six games, he averaged 39.6 yards per punt with a league-worst net of 32.1. Two of his 26 punts were returned for touchdowns.
Swain, a seventh-round selection last year, was the only draft pick who didn't make the final roster. Allen, who played at Division III Mississippi College, is an impressive physical specimen at 6-foot-4 who battled suspect hands at training camp. Carvalho is a short, powerful center who showed promise during training camp.
The only practice-squad player not signed to a contract was fullback Russ Weil. The 258-pound Weil was Rashard Mendenhall's lead blocker at Illinois. Weil failed to make the Rams' roster as an undrafted free agent. He landed in Green Bay on Dec. 18 when the Packers put Atari Bigby on injured reserve and promoted defensive tackle Anthony Toribio from the practice squad.
Major Pro Bowl news
Next year's Pro Bowl will be the first played before the Super Bowl and only the second Pro Bowl played in the same city as the Super Bowl. The Los Angeles Coliseum hosted the first Super Bowl on January 15, 1967, and the Pro Bowl the following week.
The league will determine the site and dates of future Pro Bowls later, with the game being played in Honolulu on a rotating basis. The all-star game has been played there since 1980.
"We are looking at alternatives to strengthen the Pro Bowl," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "We will continue to work with the players to make it a great event and will evaluate this concept after the 2010 Pro Bowl."
Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com.
Signings set up battle for punter
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