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.