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Training Camp Report: Kapinos Trying To Make Most Out Of Extra Work

Jeremy Kapinos and Durant Brooks were expected to compete throughout training camp for the punting job, but with Brooks currently sidelined due to a hip flexor injury, Kapinos will look to make the most of his opportunity in practice and also possibly in the game Friday night at Arizona. - More McCarthy Transcript | Tough Decisions Made Up Front


P Jeremy Kapinos

Jeremy Kapinos and Durant Brooks were expected to compete throughout training camp for the punting job, but with Brooks currently sidelined due to a hip flexor injury, Kapinos will look to make the most of his opportunity in practice and also possibly in the game Friday night at Arizona.

Brooks aggravated the hip injury last Thursday night in practice and was unable to play in Saturday night's preseason contest against Buffalo. The plan had been for Brooks to get the majority of the work Saturday since the team had more familiarity with Kapinos from his four games with the Packers in 2008.

Kapinos ended up punting five times against the Bills, posting a 43.4-yard average with a net average of 43.2. His best punt of the night came midway through the third quarter on a 49-yarder that had good hang time.

His last two punts weren't as strong, a 37-yarder early in the fourth quarter from the Green Bay 29 and a 44-yarder from the Packers' 16, a low, shorter kick that got a friendly roll.

Going into the third game of the preseason, Kapinos knows that Friday night could give him the chance to make a statement in his push for the punting job.

"I thought about that today," Kapinos said. "I truly did, and to tell you the truth my main focus is to gear up for the 2009 season. Obviously the situation with Durant being what it is, I know he wants to be out there and he is champing at the bit and he will be as soon as he can.

"If I can take an extra rep in practice, I'm going to take it. If I can take a game myself I am going to take it to get myself ready for the 2009 season. I'm sure he'll be out there in no time, but for now if I am going to be punting during practice and getting all of the reps, you're not going to hear a peep out of me."

The left-footed Kapinos did all of the punting during Monday night's practice, drilling a couple of 60-plus yard kicks with a strong wind at his back, and another that was nearly 60 yards.

"I thought Jeremy kicked very well tonight," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "The one punt was OK, other than that I thought he hit all of them. There are some fundamental footwork adjustments that Shawn (Slocum) and Jeremy keep working on.

"I think he has more pop with his punting now than I recall in the spring and during the OTAs and the beginning of camp. He's taken advantage of his opportunity."

Kapinos said Slocum, the team's special teams coordinator, has worked with him to shorten up the first step of his approach.

"The thing I really respect about Coach Slocum is you meet a lot of special teams coaches along the road in the NFL and sometimes they try to tell you something just to tell you something because they feel like they have to coach you," Kapinos said. "What I really respect about Coach Slocum is he has seen me since last year, so seven or eight months, and he has kind of got a gauge for how my punting is and what style is how I punt. When you get to this level you can't have three or four things that you have to keep correcting.

"It's just a matter of shortening up some steps, the first step. My style of punting, the shorter I am the better I am and the more I can get lift on the ball. It's just a matter of really just transferring that from a safe environment to live punts. It's an easy correction. It's something that I always seem to have to correct once a year. I can hit good balls with the long way, but it makes it a lot easier."

Another step

Linebacker Nick Barnett, looking to make his return from a torn ACL suffered in Week 10 last season, was a full participant in practice for the first time during training camp on Monday night.

Although there wasn't full contact with the team working in shells, Barnett worked during team (11-on-11) periods with the No. 1 defense at the "Buck" linebacker spot inside opposite A.J. Hawk.

"I thought it went well," Barnett said. "I went out there and was able to run around. A little bit of contact, no pads, but I was able to push somebody and torque it a little bit and see how it felt. It felt great."

McCarthy said Barnett would probably take 50 percent of the reps in practice this week. He is expected to participate in each of the three practices and then the team will evaluate his status at the end of the week.

More time

The third preseason contest is typically the game where the starters see the largest workload, and that is expected to be the case this Friday at Arizona.

{sportsad300}Last year the first string played until early in the third quarter at Denver in the third preseason game.

McCarthy said the plan for Friday night is for the first units to play the entire first half, but whether they will also play some of the third quarter has yet to be determined.

Injury/participation update

Linebacker Jeremy Thompson returned to full participation in practice after missing the past couple of weeks with a shoulder stinger.

In addition to Brooks, sitting out or limited in practice were quarterback Matt Flynn (shoulder), cornerback Pat Lee (back), safety Charlie Peprah (knee), cornerback Will Blackmon (quad), safety Aaron Rouse (hamstring), tight end Devin Frischknecht (leg), linebacker Clay Matthews (hamstring) and defensive end Justin Harrell (back).

McCarthy said Flynn was sore but that he may be back at practice this week. If Flynn is able to practice at some point this week, McCarthy said he would have a chance to play on Friday.

Blackmon suffered a quad contusion during Saturday night's game and McCarthy said he is questionable for the game at Arizona.

McCarthy said the team was still targeting the preseason finale at Tennessee for Matthews' return.

Frischknecht underwent season-ending surgery Saturday night following the game after fracturing his fibula and tibia midway through the third quarter.

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