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Longwell's Kicks Still In Good Hands


When Doug Pederson was knocked out of action after suffering multiple injuries on a hit along the sideline against the Giants Sunday, there was more shake-up on the Packers depth chart than just at the quarterback position.

While there are no guarantees, and given the ironman track record of Brett Favre, a limited likelihood that the second-string quarterback will be called on during Pederson's absence, one role that has seen Pederson on the field every game over the past three-plus seasons is that of holder on field goals and extra points.

For each of the last 52 regular season games since the start of the 2001 season and 12 games in 1998, Pederson worked nearly flawlessly with kicker Ryan Longwell and long snapper Rob Davis on all placement kicks.

With Pederson on the sideline for at least six weeks, the holding duties will be put in the veteran hands of punter Bryan Barker. The role will not be a new one for Barker, who is in his fifteenth season in the NFL, and he doesn't foresee any problems as he steps back into the field goal unit after watching for the first four weeks of the season.

"I'm used to it," Barker said. "This is the first time in my 15-year career that I haven't been the holder, so it will just be like old times again."

Longwell is fully confident that there will be a smooth transition to the new holder in preparation for Monday night's game against Tennessee.

"I'm not as concerned this time as I was the time Doug broke his jaw (1998) and we had no one on the roster who had ever held before," said the kicker. "Bryan's held for 15 years. These past four games are the first four games where he hasn't held, so I'm extremely confident that we'll get on the same page pretty quick. It's a blessing that we have a longer week, but I think it will be a pretty good transition."

Pederson will be on hand to offer any assistance, but is sure that Barker will be up to the challenge.

"Bryan's held for numerous years and he's very good at it," said Pederson. "He and Ryan will work it out. I'll be here for him if he needs to ask a question about a cadence or whatever. He can always ask me, but I'll let those two take that over. Rob's a good snapper, so Bryan shouldn't have any problem."

Longwell said before Wednesday's practice that he and Barker hadn't worked much together since the punter was signed mid-way through training camp, but doesn't anticipate any trouble come Monday night.

"I've shown him how I like the ball held just in case something happened to Doug during the game, but that's the extent of it.

"We'll go down early and do our normal stuff and get on the same page rhythm-wise. That's the biggest thing, getting Rob and myself used to him and his cadence and his rhythm. I know he'll put the ball how it needs to be by the end of the week, so we should be OK."

With everyone involved in the Packers kicking game having done this many times before, Barker doesn't see any reason why things should change from the smooth snap-hold-kick progression of the last few years.

"Rob's a good snapper and obviously, Ryan's a terrific kicker, so they'll make me look good just like every other snapper and kicker I've ever had," Barker said. "I'll catch the snaps and put them down, and he'll kick them through the posts. That's what my job is."

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