Skip to main content

Sander Ready For Pressure


Until he wins the job -- and then, even throughout his rookie season -- B.J. Sander knows his every move will be scrutinized.

That's what happens when you're a punter and an NFL team trades up into the third round of the draft to get you.

But if all the media and fan attention should put added weight on Sander's shoulders, he insists he doesn't feel it.

"It's just one of the things you deal with," Sander said this week, surrounded by no fewer than six television cameras and more than a dozen reporters. "Most of the pressure I feel is pressure I put on myself, because I have very high expectations."

Clearly, so do the Packers, who traded a fourth- and a fifth-round pick to the Miami Dolphins to move up into the third round of last weekend's draft to take Sander.

Although Iowa kicker Nate Kaeding had already gone to the San Diego Chargers earlier in the round, Sander was the first punter selected. Eventually, Pittsburgh's Andy Lee (6th round) and Louisiana State's Donnie Jones Jr. (7th) went to the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks, respectively.

With Josh Bidwell's departure via free agency to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason, punter is one of the Packers' few positions of need. At this point, the only other starting positions that appear up for grabs are Mike McKenzie's left cornerback spot and the starting safety position opposite Darren Sharper.

In that sense, the Packers had every reason to be aggressive and move up to select Sander. But the way special teams coach John Bonamego looks at it, how the Packers acquired their rookie punter is meaningless. What has value is what Sander does from here.

"No draft choice is worth anything if they don't produce and they don't work out," Bonamego said, "I don't care what position it is and where they're taken.

"The value is if the guy comes in and does what you think he can do. And if they do, then they're good picks. And if they don't, then they're not. I don't think it matters whether it's a punter or a quarterback or a defensive back."

Last season, the Packers were in the middle of the league in terms of net punting average at 34.6 yards per punt. The top team in the league was New Orleans at 38.2. The worst was the New York Jets at 31.3.

That may not sound like a big difference, but a few yards here and there start to add up over a 16-game season.

"That's times 80, 90 or 100 punts," Bonamego said, "depending on how many times you punt. So you're talking about a lot of yardage."

Even though the Packers moved up in the draft to acquire Sander, they aren't handing him the punting position outright. In mini-camp this week, Sander split reps with former Cincinnati Bengal Travis Dorsch.

"Just like every other position on the field," Bonamego said, "the best guy's got to win the job."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content