Nothing says how much a player will keep his job like a little competition.
That’s exactly what happened when the Packers signed kicker Giorgio Tavecchio in 2013 to put some needed motivation in front of a struggling Mason Crosby.
Last season, punter Tim Masthay had one of his worst seasons as a Packer. Masthay, who’s entering his sixth season, had the highest touchback percentage (8.2) and the lowest number of punts inside the 20 (14) of his career. He also had a couple of punts blocked.
Now the Packers have brought in former Alabama punter Cody Mandell. The 23-year-old has limited NFL experience by only appearing in one preseason game for Dallas. But in his last season in Tuscaloosa in 2013 he averaged a solid 47.1 yards in only 39 punts. The high water mark for the 28-year-old Masthay was 45.6 in 2011.
Obviously Masthay is the favorite in a position like this. It’s going to take a super-human effort from Mandell to outperform Masthay, while giving the coaching staff a reason to think twice.
Masthay becomes a free agent in 2017. But Masthay won’t become a cap casualty because he’s owed the bargain-basement prices of $1.3 million this year and $1.5 million next year.
This is going to come down to what happens on the field, which is how both punters and the coaching staff wants it.
The Packers are a bounce away from capturing another Super Bowl title. The roster is solid on both sides of the ball. This team cannot afford the weak link to be a punter that gets his ball blocked or that cannot pin the offense deep in their own territory in a critical situation.
It’s only May, but decisions that are made now could impact the rest of the season.
Masthay hasn’t been pushed as a Packers punter since 2010. It’s human nature to get comfortable and content. And if he beats Mandell out, that will only skyrocket his confidence.——————
Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn