LaDarius Gunter hopes to learn from blocked punt

Michael Cohen
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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Green Bay Packers punter Tim Masthay (8) has his fourth quarter punt blocked by defensive back Brynden Trawick (41) during the game against the Oakland Raiders at Lambeau Field. The punt was recovered for a touchdown.

GREEN BAY -  Late Thursday evening, cornerback LaDarius Gunter dressed quickly and hoped to exit the Green Bay Packers' locker room without being noticed. He grabbed his backpack and began to leave when reporters asked for a brief interview.

The first question — the one Gunter knew to be coming — was obvious: What happened on the blocked punt?

"I just got out of there too fast," Gunter said. "I ain’t focus on my job."

Gunter's failed block in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter allowed a free runner to descend on punter Tim Masthay, who caught the ball near his own goal line. The ball ricocheted into the end zone, and the Oakland Raiders recovered for a touchdown. It was the only touchdown yielded by the Packers in a 20-12 victory at Lambeau Field.

"That was just one play," Gunter said. "I can’t let that define my preseason. I’ll just take it and learn from it."

Gunter took the field as a member of the punt protection team and was one of three players — not counting Masthay — to line up off the line of scrimmage. He set up as the widest player to Masthay's left, tasked with blocking safety Brynden Trawick, who began the play with his hand in the dirt.

Trawick sprinted forward and juked from outside to inside, lunging past Gunter with ease. Gunter said he was over-anxious on the play, focused on running down field to cover before actually securing his block.

It left Trawick with a clear dive at Masthay. He slammed the ball into the turf, and teammate Nate Allen recovered for a touchdown.

"Just a guy right in my face," Masthay said of what he saw in real time, "but I haven’t seen film or anything so I don’t know what happened.

"(In the exhibition season) you have so many moving parts and so many guys flowing through so many different positions and sporadically throughout the game. So that’s a challenge, but we get tons of reps in practice and then we get these preseason games to rep it some more in live action and to get comfortable with what we’re doing. So by the time preseason ends and we’re heading into the season, we feel good about what we’re doing.

"Yeah, it’s unfortunate there what happened at the end, but you know, it’s a preseason game and we’ll go get it corrected."

Gunter, whom the Packers are testing at multiple positions on special teams, summed up the situation perfectly. Could he have done anything differently?

"Yeah," Gunter said. "I could have blocked my guy."

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