Insider: Thumbs up to Masthay, down to ball-handling

Aug. 23, 2013

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Green Bay Packers' Tim Masthay punts during the first half of Friday's game against the Seattle Seahawks. / AP


Thumbs Up

From the opening kickoff it became apparent it would be a good night for Tim Masthay, the Packers’ multi-purpose man who did everything but sell peanuts in the stands Friday night against the Seahawks. Masthay serves as a punter, kickoff specialist and holder and was nothing short of excellent in performing all of those tasks. Masthay boomed the game’s first kickoff 5 yards beyond the end line to continue his strong bid to claim those duties full-time. But Masthay was only getting started. He had five punts for a 55.6-yard gross average and 48.8 net average. Maybe most impressive, Masthay was forced to punt on three consecutive plays late in the first half due to penalties. He boomed the first punt 60 yards and made a textbook tackle on the Seahawks’ Golden Tate on a return that was called back. Masthay followed up with a 48-yarder that resulted in a fair catch, and finished the trifecta with a 51-yarder. Masthay has also become proficient at holding for both the right-footed Mason Crosby and left-footed Giorgio Tavecchio on field goals. Is there anything this guy can’t do?

Thumbs Down

The Packers work on handling the football every day in practice during training camp and put great emphasis on ball security. But the constant drills aren’t working, based on the Packers’ sloppy ball handling against the Seahawks. Receiver Jarrett Boykin fumbled in the second quarter in trying to pick up extra yards to snuff out one drive. Tight end Jermichael Finley couldn’t hang on to a potential touchdown catch from Graham Harrell in the second quarter. On defense Robert Francois allowed an interception to slip through his hands late in the first half. But perhaps the worst offender was tight end Jake Stoneburner, who was stripped of the football near the goal line in the fourth quarter when the Packers were driving for a potential tying touchdown. Packers coach Mike McCarthy preaches about taking care of the football every day of the week and twice on Sundays, yet his troops apparently aren’t listening, and it proved costly against Seattle.

Did You Notice?

■ It was a rough night for cornerback Loyce Means, who didn’t do himself any favors in his attempt to make the final roster. Means got beat on a jump ball that receiver Stephen Williams grabbed for the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. Means also got juked by Williams in the third quarter on third and 16 when he failed to make a tackle and gave up a first-down gain. Means wasn’t any better on special teams, when he was also penalized on back-to-back punts in the second quarter.

■ Former Packers lineman Breno Giacomini started at right tackle for the Seahawks. Giacomini got into a shoving match with members of the Packers defense after Clay Matthews recorded a first-quarter sack. Other former Packers on the Seahawks’ roster include Will Blackmon, Brett Swain and Jon Ryan.

■ Jeremy Ross fielded the Packers’ first kickoff return and gained 33 yards. If he keeps that up, he will earn a spot on the roster as a receiver/return man. Ross was also the first Packer to field a punt — he handled a fair catch cleanly and later had an 11-yard return. Micah Hyde and Alex Green also saw action on the return teams.

■ The Seahawks had seven double-digit gains in the first quarter for 13, 11, 17, 27, 12, 23 and 14 yards, yet had only three points to show for their efforts.

■ Rookie running backs Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin combined for 12 rushes for minus-4 yards.

■ James Starks, the seemingly forgotten man among running backs, made his first appearance in the game with just 1:53 left in the fourth quarter. After fumbling last week in St. Louis, Starks has fallen to No. 5 on the depth chart.

■ Ron Winter’s officiating crew littered the field with flags the entire game. The Seahawks committed 14 penalties for an astounding 182 yards, while the Packers were flagged eight times for 69 yards. The worst call came early in the fourth quarter when Packers linebacker Terrell Manning was penalized 15 yards for roughing quarterback Brady Quinn on an incomplete pass. Manning’s momentum on a blitz carried him into Quinn, but there was nothing flagrant about the play.

■ There were a fair number of empty seats for the Midwest Shrine Game that featured “gold package” Milwaukee season ticket holders.

What's your take on the Packers Family Night change?

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I don't want to pay to watch practice.(Your vote)
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It doesn't matter to me.(Your vote)
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Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports