Kapinos Wins GB Punting Job
Next game: Thursday, September 4th at Tennessee
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- Hoping to avoid the same problems they had last season with their punter, the Green Bay Packers are committing early to Jeremy Kapinos.
"Kapinos has the ball. It's his responsibility to keep it," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday.
Last season, the Packers released incumbent punter Jon Ryan a day after making final roster reductions to 53 players and signed Washington Redskins castoff Derrick Frost. Twelve games later, Frost was gone and Kapinos was brought in.
"I have no interest in going through what we went through last year," McCarthy said. "We'll learn from that experience."
The Packers ranked 27th in gross punting (41.4 yards) and 23rd in net (35.7) last year.
This time, it appears the Packers are set with Kapinos, who beat out challenger Durant Brooks during camp and figures to be the guy when the regular season opens Sept. 13 against the Chicago Bears.
Before being officially released Monday, Brooks had been sidelined with a hip flexor and had not punted since the preseason opener.
"Kapinos battled through this competition. I thought he kicked well in the game (Friday night)," McCarthy said. "I think he has some things we can continue to improve on with him, because he is a young punter. I like his disposition, the way he goes about his business. And he has the ball right now."
Kapinos said his businesslike approach was focused on being ready for the Bears, not necessarily beating out Brooks. He also had early competition with four free-agent kickers.
"My No. 1 goal is get myself ready to play, and not necessarily concern myself with what (Brooks) was doing," Kapinos said. "I know my capabilities and obviously I want to be at my strongest toward the end of training camp."
Kapinos punted twice in Friday night's 44-37 victory at Arizona. Kicking in the climate-controlled dome environment of University of Phoenix Stadium, he had a 52-yarder with 4.53 seconds of hang time and a 56-yarder with 4.62 seconds of hang time. He was up-and-down Aug. 22 against Buffalo -- he averaged 43.4 yards and 4.18 seconds of hang time on five punts -- but had a strong showing when the team returned to practice.
When the Packers cut Frost on Dec. 1, Kapinos had been out of football after appearing in one game for the New York Jets in 2007. While Kapinos' four-game numbers (39.2 gross yards, 34.5 net yards and 3.88 seconds of hang time on 17 punts) weren't better than Frost's (42.1 gross, 36.1 net, 3.94 seconds of hang time), Kapinos kicked in considerably more difficult weather conditions.
Now, with the offseason program, organized team activity practices, minicamp and training camp experiences, Kapinos said he is prepared to be the Packers' punter -- all season.
"I'm just as focused as I was last week, but now it's time to really tighten things down and get ready to go," Kapinos said. "I'm very happy. There's a lot of work to be done, and now it's time to really put the pedal to the metal. It's different, obviously, having the whole training camp, offseason, OTAs. It's been very beneficial to me. I feel much more prepared."
NOTES: No. 2 quarterback Matt Flynn (bruised shoulder) did not throw during practice and appears unlikely to play against the Titans. No. 3 man Brian Brohm, who had a strong practice Monday, figures to get plenty of playing time with the starters pegged to play only about a series. ... First-round draft picks Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji are increasing their workloads. Matthews, an outside linebacker who missed three weeks of camp with a pulled hamstring, worked with the No. 1 nickel unit at right outside linebacker, while Raji, who missed two weeks of camp as contract negotiations lagged, saw his most extended time at nose tackle with the No. 2 defense. ... Wide receiver Greg Jennings (concussion), safety Charlie Peprah (knee), returner Will Blackmon (quadriceps), running back Brandon Jackson (ankle), safety Aaron Rouse (hamstring) and defensive end Justin Harrell (back) remained sidelined. ... Rookie offensive lineman T.J. Lang missed practice with a foot injury that McCarthy said needed further tests.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)