GREEN BAY - There’s one area rookie punter JK Scott won’t be able to help the Packers this year.
While he’s working on generating good hang time, directing his punts toward the boundaries, and shortening his steps to get punts off quicker - all good things that can help the Packers’ punt unit improve - he’ll be useless when it comes to evaluating the battle at long snapper between Zach Triner and Hunter Bradley.
“I’m really glad it’s this way, but when I’m out there and the snapper asks me where the snap was, I don’t even remember,” Scott said as last month’s minicamp concluded, just before embarking on some down time at his family’s Wisconsin lake property.
“I can’t remember, ever. I’m not a good guy to go to for them to tell where the snap was, to help them out.”
Scott can be forgiven, because his lack of assistance there is a reflection of how zoned in he is on all the other things that go into his job.
The fifth-round pick from Nick Saban’s Alabama program has enjoyed a smooth transition to the NFL so far, and the early results are encouraging, as much as spring practice kicks matter.
His leg comes as advertised. Strong hang times, spirals turning over, and Aussie-style punts to pin opponents deep were all well-executed in practices open to the public and media.
If there’s one thing he’s concentrating on the most, it’s shortening his delivery. A long-legged 6-foot-6, Scott has to be careful his strides don’t get too extended, which can put him too close to the oncoming rushers before striking the ball.
He said the coaching staff has put the get-off target at 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage, to guard against blocked kicks. It’s one of many smaller details that comes with moving up to the pros, similar to how he’s now aiming his directional kicks outside the numbers, which are closer to the sideline than the college hash marks that previously served as his aiming points.
It’s all part of the transition. He knows stride length and delivery speed are crucial to get down, because one deflected punt can change the course of a game.
“For me, it’s important I get into a rhythm being fast enough and being smooth enough, getting the ball off at the right spot, so that there’s no chance they can block it,” he said. “Because I’m not going to be speeding up if I see the rush. I don’t see them.”
Sense a pattern here? It’s another element to the steady, ultra-focused mindset that allowed Scott to be successful on the biggest of stages at Alabama, including multiple national title games.
That pedigree is a big factor that led the Packers to draft Scott in the fifth round, the second punter chosen overall.
Take a look at Packers fifth round draft pick P JK Scott at Alabama. Photos by AP.
“If you look at his history, he’s been in some pressure-cooking situations, obviously,” special teams coordinator Ron Zook said.
“There's no question that he's got a big gift there in his leg, but for the most part he’s been fairly consistent, which is sometimes not the case with a young guy. Once again, when we get under pressure and get out into game situations, I like his attitude.”
Scott’s insistence on having fun, which for him minimizes undue stress, helps as well. With the preseason opener just weeks away and his official NFL debut not long after that, Scott hasn’t even gone there mentally.
His mind is on the moment in front of him, and then it’s on to the next one. So no, don’t ask him in between where the snap was. He won’t know.
“I haven’t even thought about that at all,” Scott said of soon kicking in an NFL game for the first time. “That’s the thing Coach Saban instilled in us, the whole process. Focus on right now, and when you get to the game, you’ll be ready.
“That’s my mentality. Every day I’m going to focus on those things I need to do to improve and be my best, and once the game comes, don’t think. You know what I’m saying?”