Packers sign LS Schmitt to push Lovato

Tom Silverstein
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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GREEN BAY - Rick Lovato's uneven performance through the first two weeks of training camp may be the reason he no longer is the only long snapper in the Green Bay Packers' training camp.

The Packers announced Tuesday they had signed long snapper Jesse Schmitt, an undrafted free agent in 2014 who was not on a 53-man roster last year.

Schmitt, the primary long snapper for Purdue from 2012-14, was a tryout participant in the Packers' rookie orientation camp, but he got no indication that he was on a callback list after he wasn't signed. He was working as a volunteer assistant at Western Kentucky and working out twice a day when he got a call from his agent.

"It's a great opportunity for me," Schmitt said in the locker room before practice. "I get a chance to be around Mason Crosby and Tim Masthay and Peter Mortell. Rick is a great snapper, too. To be a part of that experience is great."

Schmitt said that his snapping has been good, but the Packers had some concerns about his ability to carry out the other responsibilities long snappers must perform, like getting down the field quickly to cover punts.

"I think the thing they wanted me to do was get in a little better shape and that's what I did," Schmitt said. "I trained twice a day and got in better shape and stronger."

The Packers did not re-sign veteran Brett Goode, who tore his ACL late last season and is an unrestricted free agent. Goode may still be rehabbing his knee and the Packers ideally would like to go with a lower-cost option such as Lovato, who was signed after Goode injured his knee and performed solidly in the last four games of the season, two of them playoff games.

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His performance in camp hasn't been as consistent as it was last year.

Crosby said that he is in regular contact with Goode, who is training back home in Arkansas. He said his understanding was that Goode was physically ready to return, but the Packers may want to wait until later in the month when he reaches the eight-month mark of post-surgery, which is usually the short end of the recovery from an ACL.

"I'm in touch with him," Crosby said. "He's working out and as far as I know he's ready. The guy's never had a bad snap, so that tells you right there about him. But I'm not the one who makes those decisions (to sign Goode), that's up to the guys in the front office. We'll just keeping working and try to get everything right for the season."

If Lovato isn't performing well and Schmitt isn't the answer, it's conceivable Goode could be back before the start of the regular season.

The Packers also announced that they had released undrafted free agent linebacker Manoa Pikula, who injured a hamstring early in camp and never returned to practice. The Packers likely reached an injury settlement with Pikula.

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