Struggling Punter Sore Subject for McCarthy
Next game: Sunday, November 30 vs. Carolina
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- With punter Derrick Frost's struggles rapidly becoming Mike McCarthy's least-favorite press-conference topic, the Green Bay Packer coach did his best Friday to make light of the fact that Frost continues to punt well in practice and pregame warm-ups but not in games.
"I hope he had an awful week of practice," McCarthy replied with a smile when asked how Frost performed inside the Don Hutson Center this week. In reality, Frost seemed to kick the ball well during the portions of practice open to reporters.
All kidding aside, however, McCarthy acknowleged that Frost's inconsistency may have less to do with his leg and more to do with his head.
Frost enters Sunday's game against Carolina averaging 42.0 gross and 36.4 net yards per punt on the year.
In Monday night's 51-29 loss to the New Orleans Saints, he averaged an abysmal 33.5 gross yards, 30.8 net yards and 3.54 seconds of hang time on four punts.
Asked if Frost may need the help of a sports psychologist, McCarthy replied, "I haven't thought about it, but I'm sure there's people that do that. I'm sure we'll get all the calls after this press conference. It's an option."
While all his belongings were in his locker Friday after practice, Frost was not in the locker room during the media access session. Kicker Mason Crosby said he and Frost have talked about the added pressure he's been putting on himself of late.
"I do think a lot of it is mental at the kicking positions. We practice so much, we hit so many balls, by game-time, the mental side of it is being able to not think about it -- just block out everything and say, `I'm going to kick this ball,"' Crosby said. "He's working through things. He hits the ball great in practice, great in pregame, and he's had a few good games. He just needs to keep building on that."
Frost's struggles have been surprisingly frequent indoors -- at New Orleans, at Minnesota and at Detroit, where he botched a high snap for a safety.
McCarthy said he punted "very well" against Chicago at Lambeau Field on Nov. 16, when he punted twice -- a 30-yarder (3.97 hang time) downed at the Chicago 10-yard line and a 40-yarder (4.41 hangtime) that was returned 7 yards by Devin Hester.
"He needs to just take the weight off himself and hit the ball, not overthink it," Crosby said. "This week, so far, he's just been pounding the ball. I just hope it carries over to the game. He's due to have a really good game.
HEALTH WATCH: McCarthy isn't sure how many safeties he'll have at his disposal Sunday, but he's hoping that out of Aaron Rouse (ankle, questionable), Charlie Peprah (calf, probable) and Atari Bigby (ankle, probable), two of the three will be able to join Nick Collins (knee, probable) in the starting lineup.
"We have all three of those guys pretty much in the same boat," McCarthy said. "I'll go through (with) the medical staff and see what they think. Special teams will factor into that, too."
Including Bigby and Peprah, 13 of the 19 players listed on the injury report for Sunday are probable, including six starters: left tackle Chad Clifton (knees), wide receiver Greg Jennings (ribs), defensive end Mike Montgomery (ankle), center Scott Wells (shoulder), defensive tackle Johnny Jolly (ankle) and cornerback Charles Woodson (toe). Also probable are tight end Tory Humphrey (ankle), No. 2 halfback Brandon Jackson (ankle), safety/cornerback Jarrett Bush (ankle), receiver James Jones (knee) and defensive end Jeremy Thompson (groin).
Starting right tackle Mark Tauscher (hamstring) is questionable, while No. 5 cornerback Pat Lee (knee) has been ruled out. No. 3 halfback DeShawn Wynn (calf) is doubtful.
HAWK REGROUPS: After a strong debut at middle linebacker in place of Nick Barnett, who is out for the year with a torn ACL in his right knee, A.J. Hawk had a tough outing against New Orleans, low-lighted by being beaten for a touchdown by tight end Billy Miller.
Hawk is hopeful to play against the Panthers like he did in his first game at his new position, against Chicago on Nov. 16, when he had a team-high seven tackles.
"I don't look at it as I took a step back," Hawk said. "Obviously I didn't play as well as I did in the Chicago game. I think overall, our whole defense didn't. But it's not like my confidence is shot playing middle. I still feel very comfortable there. It just didn't go the way we'd like, that's for sure. I definitely didn't play the way I would've liked to."
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)