Training Camp Report: Opportunity Coming Saturday For Brooks

The game situations will dictate exactly how many times the Packers punt against Buffalo, but however many kicks there are, Durant Brooks will be given the majority of those reps on Saturday night. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Aug. 20


The game situations will dictate exactly how many times the Packers punt against Buffalo, but however many kicks there are, Durant Brooks will be given the majority of those reps on Saturday night.

Special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum said the team's plan is for both Brooks and Jeremy Kapinos to punt against the Bills, but the focus will be on Brooks. Brooks had the Packers' lone kick in the preseason opener vs. Cleveland, a 39-yarder that was returned 3 yards to Cleveland's 14.

"We're going to concentrate on letting Durant have the bulk of the work to see how he manages the entire game," Slocum said. "That was the plan last week but we only got the one punt.

"We had Jeremy in four games last year. We know he can manage the game. We'll approach it that way. Last week we wanted to attempt some long field goals, so that took away some of the opportunities to punt. We'll just see how the game situations go."

Kapinos averaged 39.2 yards on 17 punts with the Packers in 2008, with 11 of those kicks coming in the December conditions at Lambeau Field. Brooks, who was signed to the Packers' practice squad in mid-December, posted a 39.6-yard average in six games with Washington in '08.

The Packers had kicker Mason Crosby attempt field goals from 60 and 55 yards in the first half against Cleveland last Saturday, with Brooks' punt not coming until midway through the third quarter.

"It's good that the team was doing that well," Brooks said. "On third downs last week I was ready to go and we ended up getting a lot of them, kicking field goals, or going for it. It's a little hard to stay loose, but that's part of the job and some games are like that. I could come back this weekend and punt seven or eight times. You just never know."

With the Packers' offense obviously playing a significant role in determining how much work the punters get, it would help the team evaluate Brooks if he is put in a couple of different situations Saturday night.

"Hopefully we'll get a lot of field-position situations such as going in or maybe kick backed up or kick down the field in the middle of the field," Slocum said. "Hopefully we can get those situations and see how he handles that.

"Punters have to be ready. If they go out and maybe don't kick one real well, come back the next time and hit a good punt. It gives them a chance to be out there, be in the game and give us a full body of work."

Both Kapinos and Brooks have had strong practices at times throughout camp, but Slocum said it is that level of consistency that the team is hoping to see on display from both punters in the final three preseason games.

"They have steadily improved during camp," Slocum said. "The thing that we must have is consistency and that's the thing we are really looking for. They both have been hitting the ball very well, but it's just important that we eliminate the poor punt. That's something that hopefully these games will show us."

And regardless of how either player punts in practice in the weeks ahead, they know that ultimately their performance in the games will determine their fate with the Packers.

"These are huge games for us, competing with each other and competing against everyone," Brooks said. "There is a standard in this league and you want to be at that or above it.

"You could be a practice All-American and do awful in the games and that gets you nowhere. Practices are part of it and you want to be better in practice and build confidence and work on things, but the games are where it ultimately counts."

Debut coming?

First-round draft pick B.J. Raji was in action for both practices Thursday and is expected to get his first taste of NFL playing time on Saturday night at Lambeau Field. He took a few reps at left end with the No. 1 defense during the night session.

Head Coach Mike McCarthy said the team would wait to see how Raji practiced Thursday night and Friday morning before making a final determination on his status for the game. Raji first practiced with the team on Monday after signing with the team last Friday.

"He's done OK," McCarthy said. "He looks like a young man that hasn't been to camp. He's rusty. He's in pretty good shape. That's why you have training camp. He needs the work of the interior play of a defensive lineman.

"We're trying to be smart with him and tried to find a happy medium of getting him ready to play games."

Raji, who worked strictly at defensive end this week but is also expected to eventually see time at nose tackle, said he doesn't feel any added pressure with the high expectations that come with being a top-10 pick.

"Coming into my senior year in college, all eyes were on me, so I am used to that from the pressure standpoint of things," said Raji, who redshirted the year before his senior campaign due to academic ineligibility. "I don't know what to expect (Saturday). I'm just going to use my talents and use my coaches as help.

"If I am able to just make some plays, hopefully I can make those plays. I have no real goal for Saturday, just hopefully Coach lets me play some and get back in the groove of things."

Doubling down

Thursday night's practice wrapped up the final day of two-a-days for this year's training camp, and it was also the final night in the dorms at St. Norbert with the players and staff scheduled to move back to their homes or a local hotel on Friday.

Green Bay held seven two-a-day sessions in all during the first three weeks of camp.

{sportsad300}"I think the quality of work has been very good," McCarthy said. "The volume, I think I've hit the right number. That's something I think every coach goes through as far as getting the volume of work and the quality of work. The extra padded practices I think definitely helped us.

"You've heard me talk about before the full seven-day schedule between scrimmage and games is vital, keeping your team on a smart, healthy schedule during the week. The fatigue injuries are really about the same, but I think that shows you how hard they're working even with that Wednesday day of rest and recovery. I think that's where we are."

Injury/participation update

Healthy veterans given the morning off were cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Al Harris, linebacker Aaron Kampman, nose tackle Ryan Pickett, wide receiver Donald Driver and tight end Donald Lee.

Players on a one-a-day schedule -- safety Atari Bigby, linebackers Nick Barnett and Brad Jones, center Scott Wells, tackle Chad Clifton and defensive end Cullen Jenkins -- sat out the morning session but all returned to the field at night.

RB Kregg Lumpkin (shoulder) was in full pads and did rehab work on the side in the morning, but returned to practice at night.

The Packers also saw some injured players return to the field. Defensive end Johnny Jolly (ankle) practiced at night after missing practice all week and worked with the No. 1 defense at left end. McCarthy said Jolly could play Saturday, but the team would see how he came out of practice on Thursday and Friday before making a decision.

Safety Anthony Smith (groin) missed the morning practice but also returned for the evening session. Wide receivers James Jones (hamstring) and JaRon Harris (groin) both returned for the night practice.

New to the injury list was safety Aaron Rouse, who dropped out of the evening session at the very end with a hamstring injury. McCarthy said he didn't know the severity of the injury yet and that how Rouse felt Friday morning would be a bigger indicator, but added that it "didn't look good."

Remaining out for both practices were cornerback Pat Lee (back), linebackers Clay Matthews (hamstring) and Jeremy Thompson (stinger), and defensive end Justin Harrell (back).

McCarthy ruled Matthews and Thompson out for Saturday night's game.

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