Aaron Nagler and Ryan Wood discuss the health of the Packers heading into training camp and a strong initial showing from their rookie punter. (July 27, 2017) USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
GREEN BAY - Justin Vogel knows he’s in an enviable spot entering training camp, the only player at his position on the Green Bay Packers' roster.
But the rookie punter from Miami also understands the reality of his position. No, there isn’t much job security to go around in an NFL locker room, but no place breeds more uncertainty than punter.
Vogel isn’t taking anything for granted.
“It just shows the whole administration, the coaching staff and everyone,” Vogel said, “they have faith in me. They trust what I’ve shown so far. I think I do have what it takes to be that guy, but I know if I start falling back, or I start kicking worse and worse, I know they have guys lined up ready to go. So I think it just kind of shows they’re willing to give me more reps, give me some more time to work into a system.
“Because as a rookie, that’s one of the more crucial things, is getting more reps.”
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Already on camp’s first day, Vogel saw how extra reps can be advantageous. In the Packers' non-padded practice that stretched more than two hours, Vogel had two sets of five punts. Sharing the roster with another punter would mean splitting those 10 reps.
Only Vogel’s second set came against a rush. Unofficially, he averaged 49 yards with a 4.23-second hang time on the five punts. Keep those numbers throughout camp, and he’ll enter the fall with a job on the Packers' roster.
Vogel said he considers any punt that travels less than 40 yards or hangs less than 4.4 seconds as a bad punt. He only had one punt of fewer than 40 yards Thursday, a 38 yarder that didn’t come against a rush. Three hung significantly less than 4.4 seconds, including a 3.42-second hang time on his seventh punt.
“That’s pretty good,” Vogel said when told his unofficial numbers. “I know one kick was a little rough today, which probably brought the hang time down. If you eliminate that next kick next practice, it’s probably 50 yards, 4.5.”
Removing the punt that hung only 3.42 seconds, Vogel’s set against a rush would have averaged 50 yards with an average 4.44-second hang time.
The Packers long have needed a punter with dynamic leg strength, someone who can flip the field in tight situations. A year ago, former Packers punter Tim Masthay averaged 4.43 seconds of hang time on 46 punts in camp, and challenger Peter Mortell averaged 4.04 seconds on 43 camp punts.
Ultimately, the Packers released both before the season and signed Jacob Schum, who averaged 4.25 seconds of hang time in 2016.
Vogel knows every punt counts in camp. Each will be picked over, even the mishits. As the Packers long punter, his only comparisons are the clock and yard markers.