Packers Scramble for Replacement Personnel

The Packers made a surprising cut on Monday, two days after the mandatory roster trimming and were sent scrambling for their special teams. Plus, get other notes from Green Bay as they prepare to face the Vikings in the season opener.

The Packers raised some eyebrows with decisions made on the final roster cutdown Saturday, but what they pulled two days later, on a holiday no less, was the ultimate head scratcher.

Punter Jon Ryan, spared of in-house competition for the entire preseason, was given his walking papers Monday after two mostly acceptable seasons with the club.

The stunning release of Ryan means the Packers have only a week to break in a new mode of operations on special teams for the season opener Sept. 8 against Minnesota at Lambeau Field.

"One thing about our business is they always tell you change is constant. It comes in different forms and fashions," head coach Mike McCarthy said.

Green Bay ended the preseason last week in sudden need of a long snapper after undrafted rookie J.J. Jansen, who was spotless most of training camp, suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Aug. 28 exhibition finale.

The significance of the injury was accentuated in that it occurred on what turned out to be Ryan's final play in a Packers uniform. Jansen was injured while making a downfield block for Ryan, who sprinted 34 yards after he improvised following a high snap by Jansen in punt formation early in the fourth quarter.

The Packers subsequently signed Brett Goode to replace Jansen as the long snapper. Goode was with Jacksonville, which had signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2007, for parts of the last two years.

Green Bay identified veteran Derrick Frost as an upgrade over Ryan for the punting chores. Frost also becomes the team's holder, to which Ryan previously tended.

Frost, a fifth-year pro, punted one season for Cleveland in 2004 and the next three seasons for Washington. The Redskins cut him at the end of training camp this year after they settled on sixth-round draft pick Durant Brooks.

"We felt like it helps the team get better," Packers general manager Ted Thompson said of the change at punter, adding, "I think consistency might have been the overriding factor."

Ryan, a free-agent find for the Packers in his native Canada, had one of the most powerful legs in the NFL. Yet, his hang times were all over the place, which affected the distance and placement the Packers desired on his kicks. Special teams coordinator Mike Stock worked with Ryan on directional kicking this year, but Ryan was prone to shanks.
Frost has received high marks as a directional punter.

"That is a very important aspect of punting if you can do it," Thompson said. "It's rare that you can find somebody that is very accomplished, but we do think that Derrick brings that ability a little bit. It's sort of the whole package. This is not a ‘Kill Jon Ryan' thing. He is a good punter and (has) very impressive (leg) strength. I think we were just looking for a little bit more consistency."

Consistency, or lack thereof, was the catchword in a couple other notable decisions that came to light when Green Bay's 53-man roster was finally set by Monday.

The Packers kept only three running backs, and the choice for the No. 3 spot behind starter Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson wasn't a veteran such as Noah Herron or Vernand Morency. Undrafted rookie Kregg Lumpkin earned the nod after a consistently strong preseason in which he led the Green Bay backs with 38 carries for 153 yards and scored a touchdown. Lumpkin also proved to be an asset as a pass catcher with seven receptions for 59 yards and a touchdown.

Meanwhile, Brian Brohm's surprising struggles from the start of training camp as a second-round draft pick who had quickly grasped the offense in the spring cost him the No. 2 quarterback job. Fellow rookie Matt Flynn, a seventh-round selection, was promoted to the role of top backup to Aaron Rodgers after outperforming Brohm the previous five weeks.

Flynn compiled a 100.2 passer rating in the four preseason games. He completed 64.3 percent of his passes (27 of 42) for 209 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Brohm, conversely, had a 45.2 passer rating in four exhibition appearances. He was just 19-for-42 (45.2 percent) throwing the football for 155 yards with one interception and zero touchdowns.

"It's a competition that will continue," McCarthy said. "Matt has to hold the spot, and Brian will have an opportunity to get the spot back. Competition is healthy."

The need to get a long snapper kept the Packers from holding onto seven linebackers. Abdul Hodge was released, although he had a team-high 20 tackles in the preseason and showed that he was fully recovered from knee problems that cost him all of last season. Hodge was a third-round draft pick by the team in 2006.

NOTES

  • RB Ryan Grant is prepared to carry a full load in the season opener Monday night against Minnesota despite not toting the football once in the preseason. Grant missed the first three games because of a hamstring injury. He was in the starting lineup for the exhibition finale Aug. 28 against Tennessee but was promptly pulled for the rest of the night after the Packers scored a touchdown through the air on the first play of the game.

  • WLB A.J. Hawk is questionable for the opener after missing the last three preseason games because of a chest sprain. Hawk had yet to get back on the field after suffering the injury in the first exhibition game Aug. 11. If Hawk can't go, Brandon Chillar is penciled in to start alongside Nick Barnett and Brady Poppinga.

  • DT Ryan Pickett rejoined his teammates on the practice field Monday after missing the entire preseason because of a strained hamstring. Pickett, the anchor of the line, is expected to start the first game, though his playing time could be limited since he needs time to get in football-playing shape.

  • DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila also was back in practice Monday and should be ready to play in the opener. The pass-rushing specialist didn't play in any preseason games because of lingering soreness in a surgically repaired knee.

  • WR James Jones was held out of practice Monday but is expected to be ready for the first game. The team's No. 3 receiver suffered a knee sprain in the Aug. 22 preseason contest and didn't play in the exhibition finale.

  • C Scott Wells appears to be recovered from a strained muscle in his lower back that kept him out most of the preseason. Wells is back in practice this week and working to make the start Monday.

  • OL Jason Spitz is pegged to make the opening-night start at right guard, where he has been the team's primary starter the previous two seasons. Spitz, who filled in as a starter at center and had an audition at left guard in the preseason, is needed on the right side with rookie Josh Sitton sidelined for at least three more weeks with a sprained MCL in his left knee.

  • OL Daryn Colledge is in line to get the starting nod for Week 1 at left guard, where he's been the incumbent the last two years. Colledge also was moved around frequently in the preseason because of the team's injury situation, spelling Chad Clifton at left tackle and getting some reps at right guard.

  • QB Aaron Rodgers heads into his first official NFL start riding the momentum of two strong performances to end the preseason. After a nearly flawless performance for more than a half at Denver on Aug. 22, Rodgers made the most of his only snap in the Aug. 28 game against Tennessee. Rodgers connected with Greg Jennings on a 68-yard, catch-and-run touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. The starting offense was pulled after that play. Rodgers compiled a 103.6 quarterback rating in Green Bay's four preseason games. He completed 37 of 54 passes (68.5 percent) for 436 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.

  • WR Donald Driver led the Packers in the preseason with nine receptions totaling 87 yards. He had one touchdown catch.

  • WR Greg Jennings bounced back from missing the first two preseason games because of knee soreness to finish with five catches for 110 yards, capped by the 68-yard scoring grab in the last contest.

  • TE Donald Lee had a quiet preseason with only three catches for 25 yards, but he enters the season as the starter for the second straight year. He had a career-best season in 2007 with 48 receptions for 575 yards and six touchdowns.


  • Viking Update Top Stories

    \r\n","mobileBody":"The Packers raised some eyebrows with decisions made on the final roster cutdown Saturday, but what they pulled two days later, on a holiday no less, was the ultimate head scratcher.

    Punter Jon Ryan, spared of in-house competition for the entire preseason, was given his walking papers Monday after two mostly acceptable seasons with the club.

    The stunning release of Ryan means the Packers have only a week to break in a new mode of operations on special teams for the season opener Sept. 8 against Minnesota at Lambeau Field.

    \"One thing about our business is they always tell you change is constant. It comes in different forms and fashions,\" head coach Mike McCarthy said.

    Green Bay ended the preseason last week in sudden need of a long snapper after undrafted rookie J.J. Jansen, who was spotless most of training camp, suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Aug. 28 exhibition finale.

    The significance of the injury was accentuated in that it occurred on what turned out to be Ryan's final play in a Packers uniform. Jansen was injured while making a downfield block for Ryan, who sprinted 34 yards after he improvised following a high snap by Jansen in punt formation early in the fourth quarter.

    The Packers subsequently signed Brett Goode to replace Jansen as the long snapper. Goode was with Jacksonville, which had signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2007, for parts of the last two years.

    Green Bay identified veteran Derrick Frost as an upgrade over Ryan for the punting chores. Frost also becomes the team's holder, to which Ryan previously tended.

    Frost, a fifth-year pro, punted one season for Cleveland in 2004 and the next three seasons for Washington. The Redskins cut him at the end of training camp this year after they settled on sixth-round draft pick Durant Brooks.

    \"We felt like it helps the team get better,\" Packers general manager Ted Thompson said of the change at punter, adding, \"I think consistency might have been the overriding factor.\"

    Ryan, a free-agent find for the Packers in his native Canada, had one of the most powerful legs in the NFL. Yet, his hang times were all over the place, which affected the distance and placement the Packers desired on his kicks. Special teams coordinator Mike Stock worked with Ryan on directional kicking this year, but Ryan was prone to shanks.
    Frost has received high marks as a directional punter.

    \"That is a very important aspect of punting if you can do it,\" Thompson said. \"It's rare that you can find somebody that is very accomplished, but we do think that Derrick brings that ability a little bit. It's sort of the whole package. This is not a ‘Kill Jon Ryan' thing. He is a good punter and (has) very impressive (leg) strength. I think we were just looking for a little bit more consistency.\"

    Consistency, or lack thereof, was the catchword in a couple other notable decisions that came to light when Green Bay's 53-man roster was finally set by Monday.

    The Packers kept only three running backs, and the choice for the No. 3 spot behind starter Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson wasn't a veteran such as Noah Herron or Vernand Morency. Undrafted rookie Kregg Lumpkin earned the nod after a consistently strong preseason in which he led the Green Bay backs with 38 carries for 153 yards and scored a touchdown. Lumpkin also proved to be an asset as a pass catcher with seven receptions for 59 yards and a touchdown.

    Meanwhile, Brian Brohm's surprising struggles from the start of training camp as a second-round draft pick who had quickly grasped the offense in the spring cost him the No. 2 quarterback job. Fellow rookie Matt Flynn, a seventh-round selection, was promoted to the role of top backup to Aaron Rodgers after outperforming Brohm the previous five weeks.

    Flynn compiled a 100.2 passer rating in the four preseason games. He completed 64.3 percent of his passes (27 of 42) for 209 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions.

    Brohm, conversely, had a 45.2 passer rating in four exhibition appearances. He was just 19-for-42 (45.2 percent) throwing the football for 155 yards with one interception and zero touchdowns.

    \"It's a competition that will continue,\" McCarthy said. \"Matt has to hold the spot, and Brian will have an opportunity to get the spot back. Competition is healthy.\"

    The need to get a long snapper kept the Packers from holding onto seven linebackers. Abdul Hodge was released, although he had a team-high 20 tackles in the preseason and showed that he was fully recovered from knee problems that cost him all of last season. Hodge was a third-round draft pick by the team in 2006.



  • RB Ryan Grant is prepared to carry a full load in the season opener Monday night against Minnesota despite not toting the football once in the preseason. Grant missed the first three games because of a hamstring injury. He was in the starting lineup for the exhibition finale Aug. 28 against Tennessee but was promptly pulled for the rest of the night after the Packers scored a touchdown through the air on the first play of the game.

  • WLB A.J. Hawk is questionable for the opener after missing the last three preseason games because of a chest sprain. Hawk had yet to get back on the field after suffering the injury in the first exhibition game Aug. 11. If Hawk can't go, Brandon Chillar is penciled in to start alongside Nick Barnett and Brady Poppinga.

  • DT Ryan Pickett rejoined his teammates on the practice field Monday after missing the entire preseason because of a strained hamstring. Pickett, the anchor of the line, is expected to start the first game, though his playing time could be limited since he needs time to get in football-playing shape.

  • DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila also was back in practice Monday and should be ready to play in the opener. The pass-rushing specialist didn't play in any preseason games because of lingering soreness in a surgically repaired knee.

  • WR James Jones was held out of practice Monday but is expected to be ready for the first game. The team's No. 3 receiver suffered a knee sprain in the Aug. 22 preseason contest and didn't play in the exhibition finale.

  • C Scott Wells appears to be recovered from a strained muscle in his lower back that kept him out most of the preseason. Wells is back in practice this week and working to make the start Monday.

  • OL Jason Spitz is pegged to make the opening-night start at right guard, where he has been the team's primary starter the previous two seasons. Spitz, who filled in as a starter at center and had an audition at left guard in the preseason, is needed on the right side with rookie Josh Sitton sidelined for at least three more weeks with a sprained MCL in his left knee.

  • OL Daryn Colledge is in line to get the starting nod for Week 1 at left guard, where he's been the incumbent the last two years. Colledge also was moved around frequently in the preseason because of the team's injury situation, spelling Chad Clifton at left tackle and getting some reps at right guard.

  • QB Aaron Rodgers heads into his first official NFL start riding the momentum of two strong performances to end the preseason. After a nearly flawless performance for more than a half at Denver on Aug. 22, Rodgers made the most of his only snap in the Aug. 28 game against Tennessee. Rodgers connected with Greg Jennings on a 68-yard, catch-and-run touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. The starting offense was pulled after that play. Rodgers compiled a 103.6 quarterback rating in Green Bay's four preseason games. He completed 37 of 54 passes (68.5 percent) for 436 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.

  • WR Donald Driver led the Packers in the preseason with nine receptions totaling 87 yards. He had one touchdown catch.

  • WR Greg Jennings bounced back from missing the first two preseason games because of knee soreness to finish with five catches for 110 yards, capped by the 68-yard scoring grab in the last contest.

  • TE Donald Lee had a quiet preseason with only three catches for 25 yards, but he enters the season as the starter for the second straight year. He had a career-best season in 2007 with 48 receptions for 575 yards and six touchdowns.

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