Notebook: Relief, Joy For Masthay

The Packers began preparations for the opener at Philadelphia on Monday with all of their key players on defense. Plus, other odds and ends from the locker room.

Turns out the Green Bay Packers' coaches weren't spewing hot air when they said that both Tim Masthay and Chris Bryan are NFL-caliber punters.

Masthay won the job in Green Bay and Bryan signed to punt for Tampa Bay on Monday. He is the sixth Packers castoff to sign with another team since Saturday's final cuts.

"(Special teams coordinator Shawn) Slocum called me midafternoon on Saturday, and when the phone rang, I was like, ‘I don't know if this is going to be the ax or congratulations.' It turned out to be congratulations," Masthay said.

So, rather than battle Bryan, like he had been doing since Bryan was signed in March, Masthay arrived at practice to prepare for Sunday's season-opening game at Philadelphia.

"It was different walking in today and walking over here," Masthay said from his spot by kicker Mason Crosby and long snapper Brett Goode in the main locker room. "When I came out of the showers, I almost walked back into the other locker room. It's nice to be out here."

Masthay will face perhaps his biggest test of the season this weekend. The Eagles' DeSean Jackson averaged 15.2 yards per punt return with two touchdowns last season. He also returned a punt for a touchdown as a rookie in 2008.

Not surprisingly, Masthay was wearing a big smile and appeared a lot more at ease than in previous interviews. Last year, he was cut early in training camp by Indianapolis. As he chased his NFL dreams, his wife, Amanda, supported them financially. She'll keep her job as a teller at a local credit union but clearly shared her husband's joy.

Now, he has to keep the job.

"It's nice to get the nod, to get the job, but, one, I know it's the NFL and nothing's certain and, two, I don't want to get relaxed or comfortable," he said. "I don't want to overly stress myself but I want to go out there and get better every day."

Hey, look, it's the defense

Clay Matthews didn't play a single snap in the preseason game with an injured hamstring. Brad Jones played in just one game because of back and shoulder problems. Cullen Jenkins missed the final two games with sore calves.

On Monday, all three of those key defensive starters were back on the field. The only injured player who watched practice was reserve cornerback Brandon Underwood.

"I pushed it a little bit but nothing was really 100 percent on it," Jenkins said. "Just trying to be smart with progression now. We don't want any setbacks because setbacks now would definitely rule out this week. I felt pretty good though."

With all the missed practice time, this week at practice will be important for a defense that didn't play particularly well in the preseason.

"We've all played before, everybody knows what they have to do, what's expected of them," Jenkins said. "As far as playing together, you'd definitely like to have more time out there playing with each other to be able to feel each other out, but when it comes down to it, it's still football, and we all know how to play it. We just have to go out there and do what we're supposed to do."

Offensive line

During the opening job-through period, first-round pick Bryan Bulaga took some reps in place of Mark Tauscher at right tackle. Bulaga began camp at left tackle before getting a chance to win the job at left guard.

Meanwhile, Jason Spitz remains a Packer. He appeared to be trade fodder after not getting a real crack to win the job at left guard. Instead, he's here and will be the main backup at the interior positions.

"I missed that second week of camp there, and I think that was a critical week," he said. "We obviously had that funny schedule and obviously had a couple non-padded practices between the games and there's another week gone without hitting. Obviously, moving around after that, it's one of those things, I'm still in that training-camp mode. I'm needed to play multiple positions, so to get back to playing and get my pad level down and getting my pop back.

Four-point stance

— Funny quote of the day came from Charles Woodson, who joked that he was happy to make the team. "My phone rang early and I got real nervous. I wasn't sure. This game, you can't take it for granted. Nothing in life is guaranteed, and especially in the NFL. I'm blessed; happy to make it."

— The team spent one day working on Philadelphia during training camp and began those preparations on Monday. "We've had an offseason study that we spent a week as a staff on, and that's something that, frankly, I spent the week of the Kansas City game going back through," McCarthy said.

Quinn Porter's name wasn't on the roster sheet provided to reporters. Turns out he was waived with an injury settlement.

Charlie Peprah is wearing No. 26 (his number from his first go-around in Green Bay, rather than the No. 46 he had been wearing) and Frank Zombo is wearing No. 58 instead of No. 47.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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