Tim Masthay's hold on Packers punting job secure - for now
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Veteran Tim Masthay's hold on the Green Bay Packers punting job is secure, at least for now.
When the team released rookie Peter Mortell, a Green Bay native trying to win the job as an undrafted free agent, it left the veteran Masthay as the team's lone punter entering Thursday's preseason finale at Kansas City.
But Packers coach Mike McCarthy stopped short of declaring Masthay as the team's punter for 2016, even though he's held the job for the previous six seasons.
''Tim Masthay, he's in the driver's seat,'' McCarthy said Monday. ''It's important to have a good week of practice and perform in Kansas City, just like everybody. It's a competition to make your team.''
Both Masthay and Mortell had nine punts in the Packers' first three preseason games. Mortell, who played college ball at Minnesota, averaged 42.0 net yards.
Masthay averaged 31.6 net, including one punt he had blocked. But Masthay punted more consistently in practice and had better hang times throughout camp.
Still he wasn't celebrating anything Monday.
''We still have a week left in camp. Final cuts are this Saturday,'' Masthay said, referring to the final roster cut to 53 players.
''I guess there's two parts to it. One, I don't feel like I've won anything yet. And two, I'm not here to just win a job. ... I'm here to help the Packers win football games.''
After struggling during the second half of the 2014 season, Masthay set a Packers franchise record with a 40.2-yard net average last season, the fifth time since he won the job as a free agent in 2010 that he'd set the team record in that category.
Although he was inconsistent in the team's season-ending loss to Arizona in the playoffs, Masthay was at his best down the stretch last season, averaging 44.9 net yards per punt in December.
Masthay said he went into the offseason knowing he'd face competition in training camp, and he emphasized Monday after Mortell's release that he still is competing.
In 2008, the Packers kept incumbent punter Jon Ryan at the final cutdown, then decided to release him just days before the regular-season opener.
In addition to Mortell, the Packers also announced the release of defensive tackle Demetris Anderson, cornerback Randall Jette, wide receiver Jamel Johnson, linebacker Derrick Mathews and wide receiver Ed Williams.
With 82 players on the roster, the Packers will have to make seven more moves to get down to the NFL-mandated 75-player roster limit by Tuesday's deadline. The team will then have until Saturday to get to the 53-player limit.
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