Packers sign long snapper Derek Hart, activate LB Vince Biegel, put Kentrell Brice on IR

Tom Silverstein
Packers News
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Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby (2) and long snapper Derek Hart (54) walk across the field during training camp practice on Tuesday, August 8, 2017, at Ray Nitschke Field.

GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers' merry-go-round at the long snapper position continues and the latest to be plucked for action is Derek Hart.

The Hart signing was just one of a flurry of moves the Packers made to their 53-man roster Friday.

In addition to putting long snapper Taybor Pepper on injured reserve, they moved linebacker Vince Biegel from the physically unable to perform list to the 53-man roster and put safety Kentrell Brice on injured reserve. They also signed cornerback Donatello Brown from their practice squad.

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The Brice move was the most surprising. He had been dealing with an ankle injury since early in the season and aggravated it against New Orleans. But he returned to the game and finished it out.

He had sat out both days of practice this week.

With Brice out, rookie Josh Jones or Marwin Evans will have to fill the third safety position. The Packers like having Morgan Burnett as their "nitro" linebacker, so someone will have to replace Brice at deep safety.

It's possible Jones will see time as the "nitro" linebacker. Burnett can also play the slot in both the nickel and dime packages, allowing defensive coordinator Dom Capers to play both close to the line of scrimmage.

In that case, Evans would play deep safety.

Burnett said Brice's absence would probably not affect the way Capers plays him because others can play Brice's position.

"It's going to just be according to the game plan," Burnett said. "We're all capable of moving around. That's part of the job description."

Biegel's return was imminent. He has been practicing for three weeks after missing all of training camp and the first seven games of the season because of a broken foot. He declared himself ready on Thursday and said he was ready to contribute if active Monday night against the Detroit Lions.

Brown had a solid training camp, but the Packers went with Lenzy Pipkins ahead of him because Pipkins could play in the slot. Both are undrafted rookies. Brown likely will contribute on special teams before he does on defense.

The Packers learned Pepper's foot injury suffered in practice Thursday was serious and decided to sign Hart, who was with the team in training camp but was cut in favor of veteran Brett Goode because of some reliability issues.

Goode injured his hamstring in Week 3 and Pepper was signed to replace him.

Goode was put on injured reserve and then signed an injury settlement that allowed him to become a free agent. He has been working out and is healthy, according to his agent, Kevin Gold, but injury settlement rules require that three weeks pass before a team can re-sign a player who has signed that agreement.

It is believed that Goode signed a four-week settlement. Thus, Goode won't be eligible until after Week 10. 

That would mean the Packers would have to get by with Hart for the Detroit and Chicago games before bringing Goode back Nov. 19 for Baltimore. Of course, it's always possible that Hart will do well enough that the Packers don't need to call upon Goode again.

Hart said he had some time to reflect and analyze the things that went wrong in training camp.

"Time off can be great if it's used properly," Hart said. "It allows you to focus on what you need to work on."

So, if you're scoring at home, this is how the long snapper ordeal has gone:

» Goode played his last game Jan. 22 in the NFC Championship and then became a free agent in March. The Packers made no attempt to re-sign him.

» Pepper signed as a "futures" free agent Jan. 27.

» Not satisfied with Pepper's performance, the Packers signed Hart on March 31.

» Pepper was cut May 8.

» After kicker Mason Crosby struggled in preseason, the Packers signed Goode on Aug. 12.

» The Packers cut Hart on Aug. 28.

» Goode injured his hamstring against Cincinnati in Week 3 and was put on injured reserve Sept. 25.

» Pepper was signed Sept. 25.

Pepper had his struggles but had been a little more consistent of late. Crosby has missed two extra points this season, but has hit 7 of 8 field-goal attempts, his only miss from 59 yards.

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