In surprise move, Packers give punter Ryan the boot
GREEN BAY -- Not that Charlie Peprah needed the lesson after spending cutdown day uncertain of his own future, but the Packers third-year safety got a reminder in the fleeting nature of NFL employment during Monday's team meeting when he found out punter Jon Ryan had been unceremoniously cut by the team.
"I didn't even know Jon Ryan had been let go until they told the (new) punter to stand up. I was like, 'Wait, where he'd come from?'," Peprah said. "I don't know why they did that, but that's the business. You can never get complacent, never get comfortable."
Because of Ryan's surprising release, the Packers enter their regular-season opener against the Minnesota Vikings next Monday night with a new punter, a new holder and a new long-snapper after general manager Ted Thompson brought in ex-Washington Redskins punter Derrick Frost and chose Brett Goode to be the team's new long-snapper.
Only second-year kicker Mason Crosby remains in the kicking game from the group that went through training camp. A new long-snapper was unavoidable after rookie J.J. Jansen was placed on season-ending injured reserve Saturday with a knee injury.
"It's a good question, but we're trying to get better," Thompson replied when asked if there was some concern over the makeover. "We've got a long week. There is change, but there is always a little change this time of year, whether it be at running back like in past years or at punter and snapper here. It's just part of it."
Crosby, who led the NFL in scoring as a rookie last year and made 33 of 41 field-goal attempts (including playoffs) with Ryan as his holder and now-retired Rob Davis as his snapper, admitted he was surprised by the release of Ryan, his closest friend on the team and who stood up in his wedding in June.
"I didn't see it coming," Crosby said. "It's what I depend on the most -- making sure that snap and that hold is good. It's obviously a trust you've got to build. It's just part of this business, and we have to make sure we build this trust with this unit."
Ryan averaged 48 gross yards and 37.7 net yards on 23 preseason punts, with five touchbacks, seven punts inside the 20-yard line and a long of 72 in preseason. He had two poor punts in the opener (14- and 15-yarders) but appeared to have recovered in the final three games.
In two years as the Packers' punter, the strong-legged CFL import averaged 44.5 gross and 37 net yards on 144 punts. Last season, his averages were 44.4 gross and 37.6 net.
Asked Monday why he prefers Frost to Ryan, Thompson replied, "I think Jon has really improved. He's obviously a very talented, very strong athlete. He can hit punts like nobody I have ever seen. ... This is not a kill Jon Ryan thing. He is a good punter and (has) very impressive strength, like I said. I think we were just looking for a little bit more consistency."
Frost, a fifth-year pro from Northern Iowa, averaged 41.0 gross and 36.4 net for the Redskins last year. He lost out to rookie draft pick Durant Brooks in camp this year, and said Monday he'd set up tryouts with the Pittsburgh Steelers for Monday and the Seattle Seahawks for today. The New England Patriots were also interested, but the Packers signed him without a tryout.
Frost's best season statistically was 2006, when he averaged 42.9 gross and 36.7 net yards while putting 27 punts inside the 20-yard line. For his career, Frost has averaged 41.1 gross and 36.4 net yards, with 97 punts inside the 20.
"That's what they want out of me -- more direction and more hang time," Frost said. "That really is my strong suit, and I really need to get back to it. This is a chance to do that."
Goode, meanwhile, was thrilled to have a job after beating out Tim Bugg and Ryan Senser during a three-way tryout Sunday. Linebacker Abdul Hodge was released to make room for him on the roster.
Goode, who played in college at Arkansas and was on the Jacksonville Jaguars' off-season roster the past two seasons, was working construction for his father's company when the Packers called.
"I was framing up a driveway to get poured concrete in," Goode said. "We had just taken a break, it was about 93 degrees, and I got the call."
Crosby said he didn't kick any field goals with Frost and Goode Monday but expects to do so today.
"I just have to get that trust with these guys really quick. We're just going to have to get that operation down," Crosby said. "We've got five practices to work on it and make sure we're solid coming into the first game."
Flynn the winner: Seventh-round pick Matt Flynn has beaten out second-round pick Brian Brohm for the backup quarterback job behind starter Aaron Rodgers, coach Mike McCarthy said after practice Monday.
"We just felt Matt was a little more productive than Brian in the preseason, but 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."
For the preseason, Flynn completed 27 of 42 passes (64.3 percent) for 209 yards, with three touchdowns, no interceptions and five sacks for a rating of 100.2. Brohm was 19 for 42 (45.2 percent) for 155 yards, with no touchdowns, one interception and four sacks for a 45.2 rating.
"I like the way (Flynn) makes plays with his feet. He can get you out of a bad play," McCarthy said. "(He's) instinctive, very calm, his disposition is excellent. (He has good) pocket awareness and is comfortable in the pocket. I've been impressed with him so far."
Asked if it's good for Brohm to take a step back,
McCarthy replied, "I don't really look at it that way, and I expressed that to Brian. ... Whatever the statistics are or whatever the opinions are, there's improvement in Brian Brohm's play as he's moved through the preseason. For as ugly as some situations he was in (during) the Tennessee game, frankly I probably put him in some spots trying to call some plays for the quarterback as opposed to calling plays for who was on the field. That did not help."
Pickett, Wells return: Defensive tackle Ryan Pickett, who missed all of training camp with a hamstring injury, practiced for the first time and said he will play in next Monday night's regular-season opener.
"I felt pretty good. Getting back into the routine, I felt comfortable out there," Pickett said. "Everything went well today, and we'll keep building up until Monday."
Center Scott Wells (lower back) was also back in action, so Jason Spitz shifted back to right guard. Daryn Colledge worked some at left guard but with left tackle Chad Clifton sitting out team drills, Colledge worked in Clifton's place while Allen Barbre worked at left guard.
Colledge, who is listed as the starter at left guard on the unofficial depth chart, said the coaches "haven't announced the lineup to us. I'm practicing at both positions right now and I'm trying to get better at both of 'em. Nobody's told me I'm the guy (at left guard) yet."
Linebacker A.J. Hawk (chest), wide receiver James Jones (right knee), guard Josh Sitton (left knee), safety Charlie Peprah (hamstring), linebacker Tracy White (ankle) and defensive end Jeremy Thompson (unknown) did not practice. Jones and Sitton were both wearing braces.
Asked what his plan is for the injured group, McCarthy said many of them won't practice until later in the week. The Packers practice today, have off Wednesday, and then practice Thursday through Saturday.
Hodge's release a surprise: Hodge, who led the team in tackles (20) in the preseason, was a surprise cut to make room for Goode. Thompson said Hodge was among the players the personnel staff made calls on in search of a trading partner for Hodge but came up empty.
Asked if he ever intended to carry seven linebackers on the roster, Thompson replied, "Sure. But at the end of the day, after a couple of days extra time to kind of think it out, we just felt like this was probably the best way to go."
let's wait n c what happens against the vics b 4 second guessing the line up. hell i've backed since 66. hurt 'bout brett, but i want 'em n the super bowl no matter who gets us there. not only n the bowl a ring. thanks greenbay u've given me over 40 yr.s of hope n happiness.
TT got rid of Favre, why would this move surprise anybody???
Does anyone remember Joe Prokop? In 1985, Forrest Gregg cut long-time punter Bucky Scribner a weel before the season began because he didn't have sufficient "hang-time." Prokop (formerly of the NY Jets) was signed because of his potential as a punter. The results? Prokop was rated last in the NFC in puntng (as I recall) and the Packers struggled all year on special teams. Now we have a new punter AND a new holder. Hold on folks, we might be in for a bumpy ride!
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