Packers' green special teams 'definitely a focus'

Michael Cohen
Packers News
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Special team coordinator Ron Zook is shown during the Green Bay Packers rookie orientation Friday, May 5, 2017.

GREEN BAY - By scratching off the names on last year’s depth chart, fans of the Green Bay Packers can identify five combined starters on offense and defense who no longer are with the team.

They are tight end Jared Cook (Oakland), right guard T.J. Lang (Detroit), running back Eddie Lacy (Seattle), defensive back Micah Hyde (Buffalo) and cornerback Sam Shields (free agent/injured). It’s a very respectable churn rate given the volatility of today’s National Football League.

Turn your attention to special teams, however, and things become considerably murkier. The Packers already have new faces at punter and long snapper, and they are in the market for a new punt returner and kick returner after Hyde’s departure and running back Ty Montgomery’s potential exclusion from special teams.

That churn rate is a bit more problematic.

“We’re really green there,” coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday in his season-opening news conference, “and I’m not talking about the color of uniforms.”

If last year is any indication, there’s a reasonable chance the current punter (undrafted rookie Justin Vogel) and long snapper (undrafted rookie Derek Hart) won’t appear on the 53-man roster come September.

General manager Ted Thompson made changes at both positions well after the start of training camp in 2016. Punter Tim Masthay was released Aug. 30 and replaced by Jacob Schum, who was claimed on waivers, and long snapper Rick Lovato was cut on Sept. 5 in favor of veteran Brett Goode, who had recovered from a torn ACL suffered the year before.

Evaluating the crucial spots on special teams will be an important task for McCarthy and special teams coordinator Ron Zook.

Said McCarthy: “That’s definitely a focus.”

From the front office: The Packers announced two more changes to their scouting department Wednesday.

Charles Walls, who had worked as a college scout the last three seasons, was promoted to area scout in what will be his fifth year with the team.

And Brandian Ross, a former Packers’ safety from 2011-12, joined the organization as a scouting intern.

On Tuesday, the Packers promoted college scout John Wojciechowski to director of pro personnel, among other shuffling.

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