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Training Camp Report: Kapinos Looks To Lock Down Position

While Head Coach Mike McCarthy wasn’t ready to declare the punting competition over on Sunday, he said Jeremy Kapinos has the job right now and that it is his responsibility to keep it. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Aug. 30

While Head Coach Mike McCarthy wasn't ready to declare the punting competition over on Sunday, he said Jeremy Kapinos has the job right now and that it is his responsibility to keep it.

With the other punter on the roster, Durant Brooks, sidelined on Friday at Arizona for the second straight preseason game with a hip injury, Kapinos handled the punting duties and had his strongest performance thus far this preseason with a 54.0-yard average (53.0 net) on two kicks.

"He's battled through this competition," McCarthy said. "I thought he kicked well in the game. I think he has some things we can continue to improve on with him, because he is a young kicker. He is a strong kicker, excuse me, punter. I like his disposition, the way he goes about his business.

"And he has the ball right now. I have no interest in going through what we went through last year. We'll learn from that experience, and I think it's a great opportunity that he's handled very well so far."

Last year the Packers released incumbent Jon Ryan a week before the season opener and signed free agent Derrick Frost. Frost struggled for much of the season before he was released after Week 13. Kapinos was then signed by the Packers and punted in the final four games, including two in frigid conditions at Lambeau Field, averaging 39.8 yards on 22 kicks.

Kapinos did say that he was able to show off more of his ability to the coaches with an extended look during offseason workouts and training camp.

"I think they wanted a guy who could do a number of things punt-wise, long field, short field, regardless of what the position was, and they wanted to be able to count on me," Kapinos said. "I think the leg strength has always been there, but I don't know necessarily if people had faith that I could hit a 56-yard, 4.8 hang time. Showing that ability and not punting in frigid conditions and actually showing my leg I think was beneficial for me this offseason."

Brooks was one of three players excused from Sunday's practice, and McCarthy said General Manager Ted Thompson would announce some roster moves on Monday. The Packers' roster, which currently stands at 78 players, needs to be trimmed down to an NFL-mandated 75 by 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Kapinos admitted to having some struggles early on in camp, but he has picked up his performance of late with a 46.4-yard average and a preseason league-high 46.3-yard net average on seven punts in two games.

"I want to be progressing throughout the season and throughout training camp," Kapinos said. "I think we both had one or two days or half a week or a week where we needed to be better and should have been better. Obviously they brought some (tryout) guys in to get us a message.

"I'm happy with where I am now and there is a lot of work to be done. I'm focused on Tennessee and I'm focused on everything in front of me. I'm taking it one punt at a time, one day at a time. I'm very happy and there is a lot of work to be done. Now it's really time to put the pedal to the metal."

Flynn improving

No. 2 quarterback Matt Flynn, who did not play Friday night at Arizona due to a sprained throwing shoulder sustained vs. Buffalo in the second preseason game, threw for the first time on Sunday since the injury and said he is hopeful that he will be able to play Thursday at Tennessee.

"I'm making a lot of progress," Flynn said. "It feels good still, a little pain. I did some throwing today and I felt pretty good. It was good to get back out there and start running the offense a little bit in the jog-through.

"Now we've got to see what kind of progress I make. I feel like if I keep making the progress I have been I will be ready."

Flynn said he has primarily been doing exercises to strengthen his shoulder and rotator cuff, in addition to treatment. He threw some shorter passes during Sunday's jog-through, and estimated he threw 20-25 times.

Flynn also serves as the holder on kicks, so with him and Brooks sidelined due to injuries, that responsibility fell to wide receiver Ruvell Martin at Arizona. Kicker Mason Crosby connected on just one of his three attempts against the Cardinals.

{sportsad300}While Flynn's status at quarterback for Thursday will depend on how his shoulder responds to practice, it sounds like he will be back at Tennessee.

"I'll say this, I made an error," McCarthy said. "Matt Flynn should have been up holding in that game. I thought Ruvell Martin, that was his first opportunity in live action, and he got the bulk of the work, but the operation wasn't what it needed to be.

"Mason Crosby is kicking the ball as well as I've ever seen him in his career here. I think he has a top-notch leg the way he's driving the football on kickoffs, and the timing, and to take that timing away from him in that game was my responsibility. I should have had Matt Flynn holding in that football game, and that's where we're at. We're going to make sure Matt and Mason spend the extra time, all the time needed, as we move forward."

Injury/participation update

McCarthy said he anticipates linebackers Clay Matthews (hamstring) and Nick Barnett (knee) to both make their preseason debuts on Thursday night at Tennessee.

Cornerback Pat Lee (back) returned to practice for the first time since Aug. 6, working with the No. 2 defense during the jog-through. McCarthy said he's "hopeful" Lee can play this week for the first time this preseason.

Safety Atari Bigby (thumb) and defensive end Michael Montgomery (hand) were injured in Friday's game but did take part in the jog-through. Montgomery might be able to play Thursday without any kind of club cast on his hand.

Wide receiver Greg Jennings (head) and running back Brandon Jackson (ankle) did not practice. Jennings won't play Thursday but should be fine for the season opener against Chicago, McCarthy said. Jackson's injury is more significant than initially thought and he doesn't appear likely to play this week.

Also out were safety Charlie Peprah (knee), cornerback Will Blackmon (quad), safety Aaron Rouse (hamstring), and defensive end Justin Harrell (back). Blackmon is considered questionable to doubtful for this week.

In addition to Brooks, McCarthy said linebacker Stryker Sulak and wide receiver JaRon Harris were excused from practice.

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