Packers Pick New Punter
Next game: Sunday, December 7th vs. Houston
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- The Green Bay Packers have found their new punter.
Former Penn State player Jeremy Kapinos signed with the Packers late Wednesday after a round of tryouts. A 6-foot-1, 230-pound first-year player, Kapinos spent time with the New York Jets in 2007.
He'll replace Derrick Frost, who was released on Monday after the Packers had seen enough of his inconsistent performance in games.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said they don't have a choice.
"I want him to punt the ball in the right direction," McCarthy said. "I'm expected to win games. He's expected to punt the ball in the right direction."
Then, McCarthy added, "I'm not trying to be funny."
The Packers' punting game hasn't provided too many laughs through the first 12 games.
Frost, who was signed when the team cut Jon Ryan just before the season opener in September, performed well in practices but couldn't carry it over to games.
Frost has had only eight punts downed inside the 20-yard line all season, tying him for 29th in the league. He averaged 42.1 yards per punt and 36.1 net yards, putting him outside the league's top 20 in both categories.
Kapinos will try to improve on Frost's punting performance. But he won't be asked to take over Frost's duties as the holder for place-kicker Mason Crosby, a duty that will fall to backup quarterback Matt Flynn.
"I'm not concerned about that," McCarthy said. "Matt Flynn is our holder. Brian Brohm and Ruvell Martin will work behind Matt. We're very comfortable with Matt there, and I know Mason is also."
THUMBS UP? Packers running back Ryan Grant practiced Wednesday with a splint on his sprained thumb, but McCarthy needs more time to decide whether he'll be able to play Sunday.
"He looked OK," McCarthy said. "We weren't in pads. He went through the ball security drills, had a chance to watch him go through that. He looked to be better than he was on Sunday."
Grant hurt his thumb in Sunday's loss to Carolina, and wasn't allowed to return because coaches were worried about his ability to hold onto the ball.
"That was really the main concern (Sunday) as far as holding it, dealing with that thumb injury, having some concerns with ball security," Packers running backs coach Edgar Bennett said. "He'll have to wear it in practice and get familiar with the feel of it, then go from there."
Especially with defensive backs likely to zero in on the injury in hopes of forcing a fumble.
"You would think, try to get as many hits on it as possible," Bennett said.
Backup Brandon Jackson gained 80 yards on 11 carries, strengthening his bid for increased playing time. Jackson was limited in Wednesday's practice with a quadriceps injury but is expected to practice later in the week.
"I don't want to get into the committee thing, that's not my point," McCarthy said. "But it's important to have those guys ready, because the flow of the game really dictates how many carries each one of those guys gets. But based on performance, I'd play every situation with (Jackson). We're very comfortable with him. The running back group is kind of nicked up, and we'll work through this week."
NOTES: McCarthy said the prognosis for C Scott Wells' recovery from the concussion he sustained on Sunday is improving, and he might be able to practice Friday. "The report wasn't as positive Monday as it was today," McCarthy said. "He was still groggy Monday. He's made a lot of progress and feels good today." ... S Atari Bigby (shoulder) and CB Pat Lee (knee) both have been ruled out for Sunday's game. ... In addition to signing Kapinos, the Packers also added WR Lorne Sam to their practice squad. Sam, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound rookie, spent time this year with the Denver Broncos.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)