Green Bay Packers aren't worried about having only one punter

By The Sports Xchange  |  June 1, 2017 at 11:07 PM
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- With Aaron Rodgers at the controls of a high-functioning offense, punting is generally considered an afterthought in Green Bay.

Still, the Packers face an uncertain future with one aspect of their special teams.

They released incumbent punter Jake Schum on Thursday as a medical casualty. Schum had been sidelined this spring because of a back injury.

That leaves Justin Vogel, an undrafted rookie who has been with the team only a month, as the lone punter on the roster.

"I know it makes me the only guy here, but I know the situation -- they could bring in another guy tomorrow," Vogel said as the Packers wrapped up their second week of organized team activities.

"I could go all of the way through the preseason, and they could bring in a guy at the very end. I'm just taking it like how it is and keep moving on. Right now, it means I get more reps at practice, which is always a good thing, so the coaches get more familiar with me. Hopefully, they'll see one day that this is the guy they want and they won't bring in anyone else."

Packers special teams coordinator Ron Zook stopped plenty short of anointing Vogel the team's punter for the 2017 season, which starts in three months.

"We're just looking at what we're trying to get accomplished in practice (this spring)," Zook said. "That (roster call), to me, is on down the road when we make that kind of decision."

Zook has noticed Vogel has a strong leg. The newcomer was an accomplished directional punter in college at Miami (Fla.).

Vogel placed nearly 40 percent of his 64 punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line last season, when he averaged 43.8 yards per kick.

As another barometer of Vogel's penchant for getting plenty of lift on his kicks, more than half (33) of his punts last season resulted in fair catches.

"That's a big emphasis in this league," Vogel said. "The guys you're kicking to are really fast guys. You don't want to give them too much space back there."

After handling Miami's punting duties for three seasons, Vogel said he jumped at the chance to sign with the Packers over offers he received from a few other teams because of a favorable opportunity to win the job. He noted how Green Bay re-signed Schum, an exclusive-rights free agent, to only a one-year contract.

The Packers had claimed Schum off waivers from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before the start of last season after Green Bay cut Tim Masthay following a six-year run.

Schum punted for the Packers all season, averaging 43.2 gross yards and 39.1 net yards with 19 of his 56 punts inside the 20.

The back injury kept Schum from having a spring competition with the Packers' confident newcomer on the practice field.

"I'm trying to get as many reps as possible, get as familiar with the system as I can and try and prove to them I'm the only guy they need," Vogel said.

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