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Packers take a new direction at punter

How much value do you place on familiarity?


Joe from Gaylord, MI

Hey guys. What sort of effect does it have on a team, such as the Vikings, to lose your starting QB this late in the offseason?

It's definitely an obstacle, especially with the expectations the Vikings have for this season. You hope for the best for Bridgewater on a personal level, but I don't think it's the disaster some are making it out to be as it relates to on-the-field performance. As long as Adrian Peterson is healthy, you can't take the Vikings lightly. I mean, Minnesota made the playoffs in 2012-13 with Christian Ponder and Joe Webb playing quarterback for them. The foundation they've built is much stronger now than it was four years ago. Shaun Hill isn't a Pro Bowler, but he's proven to be an adequate hand. Don't sleep on them.

Linda from Elwood, IL

Two quick questions. What is a conditional draft pick? Why did the Packers release Masthay? His stats appear to be better than the player they signed from Tampa Bay.

A conditional pick only means a player must achieve certain benchmarks in order for the team that traded him to receive compensation. What those qualifications are vary from team-to-team, but it can be based on whether a player makes the final roster or played in a predetermined number of games. In regards to Masthay, the Packers must have felt Schum was an upgrade. It was no secret they wanted to see improvement in the punting. Otherwise, they wouldn't have brought in Cody Mandell and Peter Mortell the past two summers.

Check out this week's #PackersBusinessTrip, presented by Bose. The Green Bay Packers arrived in Kansas City on another #PackersBusinessTrip on Thursday. Photos by Duke Bobber,

Mark from Omro, WI

So the Packers were watching the Tampa punting battle and put a waiver claim in on one released. But we were already at 75 players. So how could we be awarded the player before we cut Masthay? Thanks!

You're in the clear as long as you make a corresponding roster move. The Packers did that when they released Masthay.

Albert from Ellendale, ND

Will a new punter mess up kicking field goals for Crosby? Schum and Crosby have never practiced together, and with the regular season just around the corner, is it something we should be worried about?

That's an excellent question and one we probably won't get an answer to until we see Schum work with Crosby. Tampa Bay has its punter hold on field-goal attempts, so holding isn't foreign to Schum. I just wonder whether it will impact Crosby's process at all. There have been a lot of changes to the field-goal operation over the last eight months with Rick Lovato taking over for Brett Goode and now a new holder. That's a pretty big change for Crosby, who has put together three strong seasons since his wayward 2012 campaign. The loss of Goode last December was a challenge with the playoffs around the corner, but everything turned out fine. The Packers are banking on the same with a new holder.

Gordon from Newport Beach, CA

Wes, the Packers averaged 62 punts per season for six prior years and then last year it blew up to 81 punts for the season. How do you think that factors into the punter change?

The past two years have been strange. In 2014, there were a few games where Masthay didn't punt at all and he booted a career-low 49 times. He mentioned how he felt the inconsistent reps might have impacted him down the stretch following arguably the best start of his career. Then, he winds up booming a career-high 81 punts in 2015 and struggles with ball placement on directional punts. It's hard to put a finger on what exactly went awry with Masthay, but we'll see if Schum fares any better.

Steve from Edmonds, WA

Wow, both punters gone! Let's see if I have this right. Green Bay's punter was Tampa Bay's who now have Jacksonville's who now have Carolina's who now have Cleveland's who punted and went with a rookie. Who would have thought the punter fraternity was like the coaches?

That's kind of how things work with NFL specialists. Since there's so few of them, there tends to be a trickle-down effect whenever an established kicker, punter or long-snapper is released. Tim Masthay said it best a year ago – unlike offensive and defensive players, specialists don't need to have a firm grasp of the playbook to do their jobs effectively. Either you can punt or you can't. It doesn't take much time to get up to speed on things. It's one of the reasons teams can make a change late in camp and nobody bats an eye.

David from Janesville, WI

Gents, with so many sure-fire roster guys not playing the last preseason game, would it make more sense for the NFL to delay the required cuts to after the fourth game?

This topic usually comes up every year around this time. Based on conversations I've had the past few years, NFL front offices and agents seem to be in agreement that it would benefit everybody to have one roster reduction at the end of training camp. Teams could use the extra players with many sitting their starters in the finale, while many agents fear that the 75-man cut-down devalues their clients. Your guess is as good as mine about why it hasn't changed. Regardless, this is an important week for every undrafted free agent in the NFL trying to make his dream a reality. May the odds be ever in their favor.

Jeff from Victorville, CA

Not much has been said about Morgan Burnett's absence this preseason. Do you have any info on him as to how he's doing and if we can expect him back Week 1?

Burnett returned to practice this week after sitting out of the first three preseason games with a back issue. I'm not sure whether he'll play in the finale against Kansas City, but he appears to be on track to play against the Jaguars in a little less than two weeks.

Ronnie from San Diego, CA

Now that the PED probe is behind them, what kind of season do you see Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers having?

I don't see the investigation being a distraction for them. On the field, the sky's the limit for Matthews with his move back outside. The Packers have a lot more options at inside linebacker going into this season with the addition of Blake Martinez, the return of Sam Barrington, and a more experienced Jake Ryan. That depth should enable Dom Capers to use Matthews in a more unpredictable capacity. By using Perry outside more, it further allows the Packers to be more selective with how they utilize Peppers at 36 years old. He's still a solid edge-rusher but also has value as an interior rusher on third downs. I'm excited to see what he and Datone Jones bring to that elephant role.

Hal from Lanesboro, MN

What's the difference between injured reserve and an injury settlement?

An injury settlement releases a player from his contract but compensates him for the estimated duration of his injury. If you reach an injury settlement with a player, you cannot re-sign him to your active roster or practice squad until six weeks after the settlement ends. A team retains the rights to an injured player if he is placed on injured reserve and stays there for the entire season. He earns his full compensation unless there is split-salary language in the contract, which reduces a player's salary if he lands on injured reserve.

Owen from Downers Grove, IL

Can you clarify the rules for placing a player on injured reserve? I thought that a player could only be placed on IR if they had an injury that was considered season-threatening. However, now I see all NFL teams placing players with lesser injuries on IR to get below the roster max. If this is allowed, then why wouldn't teams use IR to stash players who they want to keep, but cannot find room for on the 53-man roster?

Many teams will place players on injured reserve for temporary keeping until the two sides can reach an agreement on an injury settlement. Teams are allowed to keep players on injured reserve if they choose, but those players must count toward the salary cap. Teams are careful not to waste cap room since they're able to carry excess space over to the following season. That's why you don't see a lot of players getting "stashed."

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

Assuming Pennel and Goodson make the final 53, do they count as part of the 53 while serving their four-game suspensions, or can the Pack sign two other players for those four games?

Pennel and Goodson can be placed on the reserve-suspended list when final cuts are due on Saturday afternoon, which enables the Packers to keep two other players on their 53-man roster. Once their suspensions are over, the Packers must then decide whether to release someone or place a player on injured reserve in order to return Pennel and/or Goodson to the active roster.

Sam from Sioux Falls, SD

Hey guys, I saw a picture of Janis without a cast or anything on his hand at the Packers' luncheon. Is Janis progressing faster or does he just have a healing power?

I can assure you Jeff Janis heals like every other human on the planet. He said earlier this week that he only has to wear the club when he's participating in a contact drill, like on Monday when he caught a pass from Aaron Rodgers and worked on special teams. Otherwise, he doesn't require much protection on the hand on a day-to-day basis.

Joe from Bloomington, IN

Would you please review the Packers options for the backfield now that John Crockett is on IR?

It really comes down to three options: go with either undrafted rookie Brandon Burks or Brandon Ross as the third-string back, claim another running back off waivers after final cuts, or proceed with only three running backs (Eddie Lacy, James Starks and Aaron Ripkowski). I'd say Burks (5-9, 208) probably has the edge going into the preseason finale. Lauded for his production in the passing game at Troy, Burks also has 19 carries for 89 yards and a touchdown for the Packers this preseason.

Max from Neenah, WI

I read today that the Lambeau Leap is technically against the NFL's celebration rules, but officials look the other way. In the increasingly regulation happy league, do you ever foresee this changing?

I don't see it changing anytime soon. It's been grandfathered in and become something as synonymous with Packers football as cheeseheads or tailgating. As long as players keep it to simply jumping into the stands, it's going to be hard for the league to crack down on it now. There's too much history there.

John from Tampa, FL

Quiz for you and your fans…four degrees of separation from Lombardi to Belichick.

How about one? John Lombardi – Vince's grandson who worked in Cleveland's front office when Belichick coached there in the '90s.

James New York, NY

Hey Spoff/Biff, do you put ketchup on your hot dogs?

Only if there's no other condiments available. Otherwise I'm a pickle-and-peppers guy.

Nathan from San Diego, CA

Paul Molitor or Robin Yount?

Yount. Always Yount.

Matt from Portland, OR

I noticed in the article about Clay and Julius being cleared of PED charges Manning was referred to as a "future Hall of Fame" quarterback. While that is definitely true, isn't making that assumption a dangerous ground to walk on in journalism when it hasn't been guaranteed?

"While that is definitely true…" may be the greatest start to a contradictory statement in the history of the English language. Thank you.

Rik from Shawano, WI

Vic HATE. Spoff LOVE. Wes tolerate. When will Spoff get total control of Insider Box?

Thank you for tolerating me. I smile every day I have to open the Inbox and tolerate you.

Rob from Lafayette, IN

Who is the better punter, Spoff or Wes?

I've just added that to our offseason video checklist.

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