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Packers pass on KR Dunn, re-sign Gerhart

Oct. 10, 2013
 

The Green Bay Packers needed one week to determine Reggie Dunn wasn’t the answer to their struggling return game.

The Packers released the 5-foot-9 wide receiver/returner from their practice squad on Thursday to clear room for center/guard Garth Gerhart, who spent training camp with the Packers after signing onto practice squad last January.

The Packers signed Dunn on the heels of releasing kickoff/punt returner Jeremy Ross during the bye week. An undrafted rookie out of Utah, Dunn came with a lot of acclaim, too. He set an NCAA record with four kickoffs returned for a touchdown last year and averaged 51.6 yards per return on 10 kickoffs.

During his Utah Pro Day, Dunn ran a 4.24-second time in the 40-yard dash. He didn’t have much experience returning punts, but Packers special-teams coach Shawn Slocum said he was fielding them fine in practice.

The challenge for Slocum and scouts around the league is sifting through the collegiate returners who standout and finding those with traits that can translate their talents to the NFL.

Evidently, they determined Dunn wasn’t the guy.

“I think it’s an indication they have the ability and that big word, ‘Potential,’” Slocum said on Monday. “But they have to demonstrate the ability to do it at this level. The holes close a lot quicker, and the balls are deeper and higher, and the coverage guys are faster, so it’s a different game.”

The Packers used rookie running back Johnathan Franklin on kickoffs during Sunday’s 22-9 win over Detroit and platooned Micah Hyde and Randall Cobb on returns.

The reason the Packers likely brought back Gerhart after not re-signing him to the practice squad last month likely has something to do with backup center Greg Van Roten’s foot sprain, which Packers coach Mike McCarthy said will sideline him for a few weeks.

The Packers don’t have another natural center on the active roster at the moment behind starter Evan Dietrich-Smith. They have two other offensive linemen, Aaron Adams and Bryan Collins, on the practice squad but neither are centers, either.

A 6-foot-1, 310-pound first-year player out of Arizona State, Gerhart originally entered the league as a non-drafted free agent with the Cleveland Browns in May 2012 and spent the 2012 regular season on Cleveland’s practice squad before signing with the Packers during the postseason.

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Get Green Bay Packers updates as they happen from our reporting team: (from left) Mike Vandermause, Wes Hodkiewicz and Pete Dougherty.

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