Packers Cut Ryan, Add Long Snapper
Season Opener: Monday, September 8th vs. Minnesota
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- The Green Bay Packers will start the regular season against the Minnesota Vikings next Monday night with a new punter, a new holder and a new long snapper.
General manager Ted Thompson cut punter Jon Ryan on Monday in favor of ex-Washington Redskins punter Derrick Frost and chose Brett Goode to be the team's long snapper.
Only second-year placekicker 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 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 the retired Rob Davis as his snapper, admitted he was surprised by the release of Ryan. Ryan was his closest friend on the team and stood up at 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 and a long of 72. 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 with the Packers, 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 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 had set up tryouts with Pittsburgh and Seattle. New England was 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. 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' offseason roster the past two seasons, was working for his father's construction 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 on Monday but expects to do so Tuesday.
"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."
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)