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Kicker Brought In To Compete With Rayner


Despite being the only kicker in training camp, Dave Rayner has in essence been competing with any kicker who might be released by another team in order to win the Packers' job.

Now, one of those kickers will be here to go head-to-head with him this week.

On Tuesday, the Packers claimed E.J. Cochrane off waivers from Philadelphia. Cochrane, a 5-foot-11, 204-pound rookie from Montana State, originally signed as a non-drafted free agent with Atlanta in February, then signed with the Eagles in April and was waived on Saturday.

"We've been following him at school and also this training camp," Thompson said in his news conference Tuesday afternoon. "We thought he was having a really good training camp and thought he was a guy we'd want to take a look at. So we have a few days here to see what's what."

In preseason with the Eagles, Cochrane made a 29-yard field goal against Cleveland on Aug. 10 and missed a 48-yarder against Pittsburgh last Friday. He also made his lone PAT attempt.

Cochrane made 16 of 29 career field goal attempts in college, including a pair of game-winners as a senior in 2004.

Thompson said Head Coach Mike McCarthy informed Rayner of the decision to bring in Cochrane while the team was in Cincinnati. Since getting a look as the lone kicker in camp, Rayner has made both his field goal attempts (from 30 yards) and hit seven of nine kickoffs into the end zone.

"He was fine with it," Thompson said. "He doesn't expect to be given the job, he knows he has to do it. He said, and rightfully so, as long as he kicks well he should be fine."

Tough luck

For the second straight year, 2005 seventh-round draft choice Kurt Campbell was placed on injured reserve, ending his season, before the arrival of the first regular-season game.

Campbell, a linebacker out of Albany, injured his shoulder covering a kickoff return Monday night in Cincinnati. Thompson didn't go into specifics about the injury, only saying it was severe enough to sideline him for the season. He had been in competition for a backup spot at weak-side linebacker and a role on special teams.

Last year, Campbell tore an ACL in his knee during training camp and had done all his rehabilitation, only to be slowed in training camp this summer by a hamstring injury, forcing him to miss the first two preseason games.

"We finally got past that and were looking forward to watching him play over these last two games, then on the very first play he's in there he gets injured," Thompson said. "That's bad luck.

"It's too bad, he's a good kid."

Difficult job

Thompson makes no secret of the fact that his least favorite days as a general manager are when roster reductions are made. The Packers released eight players on Tuesday to get down to the NFL-mandated limit of 75.

"Most of them are pretty young and they've done everything we've asked them," Thompson said. "Some of them didn't get as much playing time as we or they would have hoped, but that's just sort of the way those first three games worked out. Sometimes injuries were a factor and other things, but these guys did a good job, and it was a tough day."

There's a possibility some of the released players could be brought back onto the practice squad next week, should they not be claimed by any other teams. For competitive reasons, Thompson declined to say whether he was considering any players for the practice squad.

The final roster reduction is Saturday, when the Packers will have to be down to 53 players. Thompson says no roster decisions are easy, but of the 22 that have yet to be made, some promise to be especially difficult.

"They're all tough, but the level of talent and ability and trying to weigh all those things in terms of where you are and where you need to be, those tougher decisions will come a little bit later," Thompson said.

Poor tackling

Thompson didn't want to comment on how any individuals performed in the blowout loss at Cincinnati Monday night, but he did note one particular defensive deficiency - tackling.

"As a group, we didn't tackle very well, especially poor tackling in third-down situations," he said. "We fell off some tackles."

The Packers allowed the Bengals to convert nine of 14 third downs (64 percent), including nine of 12 in the first three quarters. Thompson said he didn't know if the players were tired from the long week of practice or if the long nine-day layoff between games played a factor in the team's disappointing performance.

"Late in the game, when it kind of got out of control, especially after the little suspension of play, I thought we were still playing hard, but we were bouncing off of ball carriers," Thompson said. "Give those guys credit, they were running the ball pretty hard, but we've got to tackle better than that. Absolutely."

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