In each of his three seasons as the Green Bay Packers’ punter, Tim Masthay has either tied or broken the franchise record for net punting average.
As recently as 2006, Masthay’s current 40.1-net yards per punt would have led the NFL and probably resulted in a Pro Bowl berth. Even two years ago, that would have been good for third-best in the NFL. But in the last two seasons, punting numbers have ballooned.
As Press-Gazette reporter Rob Demovksy writes, there are 16 punters entering Week 14 — half of the NFL — with a net average of 40 yards or more, a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Masthay and some other punters.
“(Vikings punter) Chris Kluwe and I were talking about this the other day, it used to be if you grossed 45 or 46 (yards) and netted 38, you were going to be top five in the league,” Masthay said. “Over the last two years, the numbers have skyrocketed. It’s a little bit frustrating because I’m like, ‘Shoot, we’re having an awesome year but we’re still (16th) in the net.’”
You can read the rest of Demovsky’s story on Masthay’s development here: http://tinyurl.com/a6ytg6p
*In our Packers notebook, Press-Gazette reporter Pete Dougherty looks at the potential changes in store for how the NFL handles kickoffs.
Time magazine on Thursday had a story on NFL commissioner Roger Goodell that included his mention of the league considering eliminating the kickoff for player-safety reasons. The alternative Goodell floated is giving the ball to the kickoff team at its 30-yard line facing a fourth-and-15. The team can try to convert the first down, punt the ball or run a fake punt.
The idea is to eliminate the high-speed collisions of a kickoff but still give the kicking team a chance to get the ball back, as it has under current rules with an onside kick.
“It would change the game quite a bit,” Packers special-teams coach Shawn Slocum said. “I think there’s some things that will be different. I think the field position will change. Punting the ball will be less predictable than a kickoff in terms of the flight of the ball. I haven’t had a chance to really digest it all, but I think it would definitely have an effect on the game.”
Dougherty’s notebook also touches on the Packers’ current injury situation, Ryan Grant needing to protect the football and tight end Andrew Quarless possibly undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery (http://tinyurl.com/amgjvp2).
*Press-Gazette sports editor Mike Vandermause chatted with readers at PackersNews.com on Thursday. Here’s a transcript from the hour-long conversation (http://tinyurl.com/aw9rvb5).