No early advantage between Packers’ punters

The first live-action situations in the competition between Tim

Masthay and Australian Chris Bryan didn’t give either punter an

advantage.

It only convinced Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy of two things:

the Packers have their two most talented punters in the past three

years and that it’s likely going to come down to the end of camp to

decide who’ll stay and who’ll be released.

Both Masthay and Bryan had strong efforts during Saturday

night’s intrasquad scrimmage, with each getting five attempts and

each nailing a long of 62 yards.

”We wanted to create as close as we possibly can to true game

atmosphere, put pressure on them,” McCarthy said after the

scrimmage. ”They handled it very well. It’s going to be a very

good competition. They’re both very talented. I have no question

that we’re so much further ahead than we’ve been the past two years

just with the individual ability at the punting position.”

Punting has been a short subject around the franchise ever since

the days of Craig Hentrich (1994-97) and Josh Bidwell (2000-03)

left. McCarthy has used different punters each of the last three

years, including Derrick Frost (2008), Jeremy Kapinos (2008-09) and

Jon Ryan (2006-07), whose numbers continue to improve in

Seattle.

Masthay kicked for four years at Kentucky and was named to the

All-SEC team as a senior. Bryan was kicking too, four seasons in

the Australian Football League after being drafted in that league

in 2004.

”We really are friends,” Masthay said. ”And we wish the best

for each other. We know that, in the end, it’s just going to be one

of us. We’re friends, and we understand that. We’ve been pushing

each other and making each other better.”

On Saturday night, neither gained a significant advantage over

the other in the first round of tries in game-like conditions.

Bryan’s first punt was his longest at 62 yards. He then had 52 and

53 yarders. Masthay’s first punt was 48 yards, followed by his

62-yard effort and a 49-yard kick.

”He set the pace real quick,” Masthay said of watching Bryan’s

62-yarder on his first attempt. ”He had a great punt to start it

off, and I knew I had to answer it. I was happy to go out there and

be able to do it.”

In directional kicking, Bryan faired slightly better than

Masthay, but only netted a total of seven more yards to finish with

a 50.4 yard average compared to Masthay’s 47.0 average. The two are

also vying to be the holder for kicker Mason Crosby.

Masthay said even with nearly 50,000 people in attendance, he

was most nervous because general manager Ted Thompson and McCarthy

were standing behind them for each kick.

”With Mike and Ted back there, that gets my heart going more a

lot of time,” Masthay said. ”It’s good because it makes you

really focus all of the time.”