Green Bay Packers: Tim Masthay

More special-teams gaffes hurt Packers

December, 14, 2014
Dec 14
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – This is shaping up to be the worst special-teams season in Mike McCarthy's nine-year tenure as the Green Bay Packers coach.

Sunday didn't help matters.

For the sixth time this season, they had one of the own kicks blocked. And that wasn't even their most costly special-teams mistake.

The only touchdown the Packers gave up in their 21-13 loss at the Buffalo Bills came on a 75-yard punt return by Marcus Thigpen in the first quarter.

"We definitely hurt ourselves today, that's for sure," Packers punter Tim Masthay said. "We had a punt returned for a touchdown and a field goal blocked and we lost by eight, so yeah, it was not a good day for our unit."

Masthay hit a short punt that went only 31 yards and down the middle of the field that Thigpen had to move up to receive. He broke to his left and dodged safety Sean Richardson at his own 30-yard line. The only Packers player with a chance to stop him was cornerback Demetri Goodson, but he had two blockers between him and Thigpen.

"I looked up and all I saw was the whole left side was wide open," Goodson said. "I guess everybody kind of overpursued it. I just saw blockers in front of him."

But Masthay didn't blame the coverage unit.

"If the ball would've been higher, I don't think they would've been able to return it because I hit a couple higher going in that direction and they covered it great," Masthay said. "I see it as my responsibility to hit the ball higher."

Crosby's blocked field goal came on a 53-yard try in the second quarter. Big Mario Williams (6-foot-6) got a hand on it.

"Just coming off my foot it felt good when I made impact, but from that distance, sometimes it comes off a little bit lower," Crosby said. "I don't want to drive it necessarily, but I intentionally hit a ball that’s going to have the right distance, but like I said, I've got to evaluate myself and look at the protection and make sure that we’re accountable. It all starts with me. I've got to make sure I hit the right ball."

It was the second field goal that Crosby has had blocked this season. He's also had two extra points blocked, and Masthay has had two punts blocked.

Last week, special-teams coach Shawn Slocum called having five blocked kicks "unacceptable."

What does that make six?

Other than a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown by Micah Hyde in Week 10 against Philadelphia and Crosby's otherwise solid season (he's 25-of-29 on field goals with two of the four misses blocked), the Packers haven't had much to boast about on special teams.

Starter Pack: Too many blocked kicks

December, 12, 2014
Dec 12
A roundup of what's happening on the Green Bay Packers beat.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Before this season, the last time the Packers had a punt blocked was Oct. 14, 2012. The last time they had an extra point attempt blocked was Dec. 11, 2011. The last time they had a field goal attempt blocked was Nov. 7, 2010.

They're not even through an entire season yet, and they have allowed all three to happen this year.

The latest example was a blocked extra point attempt in Monday night's 43-37 victory against Atlanta. In all, the Packers have had five kicks blocked -- two extra point attempts, two punts and a field goal attempt -- in 13 games this season.

"For me, as the special teams coach, that's unacceptable," Shawn Slocum said.

Falcons defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hagemen slipped between Josh Boyd and Lane Taylor to block a fourth-quarter extra point attempt. Normally, T.J. Lang would have been in one of those spots on the right side of the protection unit, but the Packers removed both him and fellow starting guard Josh Sitton, who usually manned the left side, from special teams following the bye week to reduce their load as they have played through injuries.

"Whoever's in there's got to step up and get it done," Slocum said. "We've been really solid with our field goal protection with Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang there side by side. We had Oakland jump over us and block either an extra point in a [2011] game that was out of hand, and other than that, Julius Peppers blocked one a few years ago, but we've been solid for a long time in there. It's something that we haven't done this year acceptable to me, and you shouldn't have kicks blocked."

Slocum knows that teams will come after kicker Mason Crosby and punter Tim Masthay now that they've shown vulnerability in protection.

"You don't even have to have a kick blocked for teams to come after you," Slocum said. "Once you show a weakness in protection, particularly in a field goal protection or punt protection, you better fix it. Even if they don't block it, if you show something, it better be fixed that week or it's going to get exposed."

In case you missed it from Best of the rest:

The Film Don't Lie: Packers

November, 11, 2014
Nov 11
A weekly look at what the Green Bay Packers must fix:

The film review from Sunday's 55-14 victory over the Chicago Bears was so easy that coach Mike McCarthy said he and his staff moved on to the Philadelphia Eagles earlier on Monday than they usually would to start on the opponent.

But one area they need to shore up is their special teams coverage units after allowing the Bears' Chris Williams to return a fourth-quarter kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown.

Sure, it came in garbage time with the Packers already leading 55-7. And yes, the Packers had several backups on their coverage team. But the Eagles bring a dangerous return game to Lambeau Field on Sunday.

In case they needed to be reminded, it was on display Monday night against the Carolina Panthers. Veteran Darren Sproles returned a punt 65 yards for a touchdown in the first half against the Panthers, who foolishly kicked right down the middle of the field to Sproles. That was Sproles’ second punt return for a touchdown this season. Kickoff returner Chris Polk already has a 102-yard return for a touchdown this season; it came in Week 3 against the Washington Redskins.

The Packers came out of Sunday's game ranked 26th in the league in kickoff coverage, allowing an average of 26.07 yards per return. However, their punt coverage unit has fared much better, ranking fifth in the league after allowing an average of only 5.87 yards per return.

The Packers should be able to neutralize Sproles with Tim Masthay's outstanding directional punting. Masthay is averaging a career-best 41.38 net yards per punt.

The Film Don't Lie: Packers

October, 7, 2014
Oct 7
A weekly look at what the Green Bay Packers must fix:

The Packers nearly played a complete game in Thursday's 42-10 rout of the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field.


But if there's an area where coach Mike McCarthy might have to place an extra emphasis this week in preparation for Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins, perhaps it's on special teams, specifically on kickoff coverage.

The Vikings got a 46-yard kickoff return from Marcus Sherels and a 56-yard return from Cordarrelle Patterson (although it was called back of a holding penalty). Special-teams coach Shawn Slocum's coverage units have been much improved over last season, when they ranked 29th out of 32 teams in both average yards allowed on kickoff returns and punt returns.

But against the Vikings, they had problems tackling. The Packers missed a season-high five special-teams tackles, according to In their previous three games combined, the Packers missed only one special-teams tackle. That followed four misses in the Week 1 loss at the Seattle Seahawks. A superb effort by punter Tim Masthay, who tied a team record with five punts downed inside the 20, aided the Packers punt coverage unit.

The Packers made one special-teams-related roster move this week, releasing core player Ryan Taylor, who had only one special-teams tackle in five games this season. They replaced him with receiver Kevin Dorsey, who played on several of the No. 1 special-teams units during the preseason. Dorsey was promoted from the practice squad.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- After three days of training camp practices, the Green Bay Packers took Tuesday off.

It's a small sample size, but before they get back on the field Wednesday morning at 8:20 local time, here's a look at what we've learned about them so far. After breaking down the offense and the defense, here’s a look at special teams:

Status quo: It's status quo among the three specialists -- kicker Mason Crosby, punter Tim Masthay and long-snapper Brett Goode. There's no in-house competition at those positions. Crosby, who was under the microscope at this time last season after coming off a sub-standard 2012 season, appears to be in a similar groove to last season, when he made a career-best 89.2 percent of his field goals. In the only field goal period of camp so far, he made 7-of-8 kicks, including a pair of 50-yarders.

Returners wanted: Special teams coach Shawn Slocum is shuffling returners through the drills like it's a wide-open competition. The days of receiver Randall Cobb handling the duties appear to be over even though he's their most accomplished returner. Safety Micah Hyde, who had a punt return for a touchdown last season as a rookie against the Vikings, has gotten the first crack at the job again. But rookie receiver Jared Abbrederis and second-year receiver Myles White also have gotten looks. Running back DuJuan Harris looks like the early leader to handle kickoff returns.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Over the last two weeks and leading up to the Green Bay Packers' first training camp practice on Saturday, we broke down each position group.

We wrap up the series with special teams.

Returning players: Mason Crosby (K), Tim Masthay (P), Brett Goode (LS).

Gone from last season: None.

New this season: None

Position coach: Shaun Slocum (sixth season, also spent three seasons as assistant special teams coach).

Biggest issue: Despite a major rebound by Crosby, who had his best career season in 2013 following his worst in 2012, and another strong season by Masthay, the Packers finished 20th out of 32 teams in the Dallas Morning News' highly-regarded annual special teams rankings. Where did Slocum's unit struggle the most? Perhaps it was in covering kicks. Opponents started drives at an average of the 25.6-yard line, the best field position in the league last season.

Player to watch: Perhaps the most important person to keep an eye on this summer is not a player but rather a new addition to the coaching staff. Coach Mike McCarthy brought in former Illinois and Florida head coach Ron Zook to assist Slocum in coaching special teams. It's unusual for a 60-year-old veteran coach to serve in a position normally reserved for a young, up-and-coming coach, but it speaks to McCarthy's commitment to improving this unit. Zook coached special teams with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1996-98. He also has previous experience with McCarthy. The two were on New Orleans Saints coaching staff together in 2000 and 2001.

Medical report: There are no known injury issues.

Help wanted: While the Packers are set with their specialists, the return job might be wide open. The Packers seem unlikely to put receiver Randall Cobb back on return duties, but they would like someone just as dangerous. Defensive back Micah Hyde finished last season as the primary returner on both kickoffs and punts. Hyde, who was more effective as a punt returner, will face competition from several players. The most likely challenger might be rookie receiver Jared Abbrederis, a fifth-round pick from Wisconsin.

Quotable: "I thought we had a good year in a couple of areas and did poorly in one particular area, and that's explosive gains in coverage," Slocum said of last season. "That's something we've really got to improve. Can't give up explosive gains and expect to win field position or games."

Previous installments

July 14: Quarterbacks

July 15: Running backs

July 16: Receivers

July 17: Tight ends

July 18: Offensive line

July 21: Defensive line

July 22: Linebackers

July 23: Cornerbacks

July 24: Safeties
Examining the Green Bay Packers' roster:

Quarterbacks (3)
The Packers have not kept three quarterbacks on their opening-day roster since 2008, but they might be inclined to do so this season in order to avoid a situation like last year, when Rodgers broke his collarbone. Coach Mike McCarthy is high on Tolzien, who made two starts last season, but Flynn has proved he can win as a backup in Green Bay.

Running backs (4)

The return of Harris, who missed all of last season because of a knee injury, gives the Packers insurance behind Lacy and Starks. Kuhn is valuable both as a fullback and on special teams. It's possible they'll keep a fourth halfback, but the loss of Johnathan Franklin to a career-ending neck injury has left them without a strong in-house candidate for that spot.

Receivers (6)

The Packers often keep only five receivers, but given that they drafted three -- Adams (second round), Abbrederis (fifth round) and Janis (seventh round) -- there's a good chance they will keep six. Abbrederis and Janis will not only have to show they're better prospects than second-year pros Myles White and Chris Harper, but they also could help themselves if they can return kicks.

Tight ends (4)

McCarthy likes tight ends (he has kept five before), and the wild card is undrafted rookie Colt Lyerla.

Offensive linemen (8)

The Packers typically only activate seven offensive linemen on game day, so they can get away with keeping just eight on the roster. Barclay's ability to play all five positions also allows them some freedom. Lane Taylor could be the ninth lineman if they go that route.

Defensive line (7)

Worthy and Guion have work to do to make the roster, but there's room for them if you count Julius Peppers and Mike Neal among the outside linebackers, which is where they lined up more often in the offseason.

Linebackers (8)

There will be some tough cuts here. Second-year pros Nate Palmer and Andy Mulumba both played last year as rookie outside linebackers. It also may be tough for highly touted undrafted rookie Adrian Hubbard to make it.

Cornerbacks (6)

Hayward's return from last season's hamstring injury means he likely will return as the slot cornerback in the nickel package, a role played last year by Micah Hyde (who may primarily play safety this year).

Safeties (4)

The major question here is whether Hyde or Clinton-Dix will be the starter alongside Burnett. Chris Banjo, who played primarily on special teams last season, might be the odd man out.

Specialists (3)

There's no competition at any of these spots.
GREEN BAY, Wis. – After looking at how things are shaping up on offense and on defense as the Green Bay Packers head into training camp, it's time to examine the special teams depth chart.

Remember, this is an unofficial assessment, but it is based on observations during organized team activities and minicamp practices combined with interviews with assistant coaches and scouts.

Kicker: Mason Crosby

Notes: Last summer, the Packers conducted a full-scale competition for the job after Crosby's disastrous 2012 season. He not only beat out Giorgio Tavecchio and Zach Ramirez in training camp, but then went on to his best season. A year later, the Packers feel so confident in Crosby that they don't have another kicker on the roster. Crosby closed the offseason by making all seven of his field goals -- including a pair from 50-plus yards -- during his final minicamp practice and appears to have picked up where he left off in 2013.

Punter: Tim Masthay

Notes: Entering his fifth season as the Packers’ punter, Masthay kicked the ball well throughout the offseason. Like Crosby, he's the only specialist at his position on the roster.

Long snapper: Brett Goode

Notes: The Packers remain committed to keeping a roster spot for a specialized long snapper.

Kickoff returner: DuJuan Harris, Micah Hyde, Jared Abbrederis, Jeff Janis, Kevin Dorsey, Randall Cobb.

Notes: Special teams coach Shawn Slocum put Harris in as the number one returner during minicamp last month and wants to explore how the backup running back would fare in that role. Hyde was more effective as a punt returner than as a kickoff returner last season. The Packers are not likely to use Cobb as their primary returner anymore, but young receivers such as Abbrederis, Janis and Dorsey will get shots at it this preseason.

Punt returner: Hyde, Abbrederis, Cobb, Tramon Williams.

Notes: Hyde's sure-handedness and solid decision-making for a great punt-returning combination, but Abbrederis has the kind of speed and elusiveness that made Cobb special.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Let's get this out of the way from the top; we know Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson does not draft for need -- or so he says.

But in the months leading up to this week's draft, Thompson and his scouts have spent hundreds of hours not only discussing the prospects who will be available to them but also their current roster and its strengths and weaknesses.

With that in mind, let's break the 12 position groups that make up the roster into four parts based on the following categories of draft needs.

We will define them this way:
  • Part 1: Negligible -- positions where there is little or no need.
  • Part 2: Non-essential -- positions where there is a need but it is not paramount to fill.
  • Part 3: Secondary -- positions where there is a need but not at the critical level.
  • Part 4: Pressing -- positions where it is imperative that help be found.

First up are the negligible needs.

10. Defensive line: Whether you count recently signed pass-rusher Julius Peppers here or as an outside linebacker, it's still a deep position with the return of nose tackle B.J. Raji (who signed a one-year contract), a pair of draft picks last season in first-rounder Datone Jones and fifth-rounder Josh Boyd, and an emerging star in Mike Daniels. If the Packers need short-term help, they could re-sign veterans Johnny Jolly and Ryan Pickett. That said, Thompson has never been one to pass up a big-bodied player so it wouldn't be a total shock to see him take a defensive lineman high in the draft if the right one fell into his lap.

Possible players of interest: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota; Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame; Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State; Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame.

11. Running back: This could be as deep a group as coach Mike McCarthy has had in his nine seasons thanks to reigning offensive rookie of the year Eddie Lacy plus the return of James Starks, DuJuan Harris, Johnathan Franklin and John Kuhn. The only issues here would be if Harris' knee injury that kept him out all of last season and Franklin's neck injury that ended his rookie year in November remain problematic.

Possible players of interest: None.

12. Specialists: The Packers are set at all three spots -- kicker, punter and long-snapper. Mason Crosby's bounce-back year means the Packers may not even bring another kicker to training camp. Crosby is signed through 2015. Punter Tim Masthay is signed through 2016 and snapper Brett Goode through 2015. There are no issues with either one.

Possible players of interest: None.

Super XLV: Where are they now?

February, 6, 2014
Feb 6
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Exactly three years ago -- on Feb. 6, 2011 -- the Green Bay Packers won Super Bowl XLV.

Since then, much has happened to the 53 players who were on the roster for that 31-25 victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Arlington, Texas.

Free agency, injuries, retirement and declining performance cause roster turnover.

Still, it’s eye-opening that from the group that suited up for the Packers’ last championship, only 12 players (just 22.6 percent) remain under contract with the team for 2014. Another 11 are still officially members of the Packers, but have contracts that expire next month. There are 13 players with other NFL teams, and 17 are out of football -- perhaps for good.

Here’s a look at the status of every player who was on the active roster three years ago today at Super Bowl XLV:

Under contract for 2014

  • [+] EnlargeAaron Rodgers
    Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesThree years after being named MVP of Super Bowl XLV, Aaron Rodgers is still leading the Packers.
    QB Aaron Rodgers: Threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns on the way to winning the Super Bowl XLV MVP, then won the NFL MVP award the next season. Signed a five-year, $110 million contract extension last April.
  • G Josh Sitton: Started Super Bowl XLV at right guard, but moved to left guard in 2013 and was a second-team, All-Pro selection. Signed a five-year contract extension on Sept. 2, 2011 that averages $6.75 million per season.
  • T Bryan Bulaga: Started at right tackle, but moved to left tackle last offseason. A training camp knee injury ended his 2013 season, and he now enters the final year of his rookie contract.
  • G: T.J. Lang: Served as a backup, but became the starting left guard the next season. Signed a four-year contract extension on Aug. 14, 2012 that averages $5.2 million per season. Moved to right guard last season.
  • WR Jordy Nelson: Caught nine passes for 140 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl, and went on to post 1,000-yard receiving seasons in two of the next three years. Entering the final year of his contract in 2014.
  • OLB Clay Matthews: Forced a fumble in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl that the Packers recovered and turned into a touchdown to pad the lead. Four-time Pro Bowler signed a five-year, $66 million contract extension last April.
  • LB A.J. Hawk: Started and made seven tackles in the Super Bowl. Was released two months later, only to re-sign a more salary-cap friendly deal. Is under contract through 2015.
  • CB Tramon Williams: Broke up three passes in the Super Bowl, including the one that sealed the game on fourth-and-5 from the Steelers’ 33-yard line in the final minute. Entering the final year of his contract. Scheduled to make $7.5 million in 2014, and could be a candidate to be released or restructured despite a strong finish to last season.
  • K Mason Crosby: Made a 23-yard field goal in the game and signed a five-year, $14.75 million contract on July 29, 2011. Struggled in 2012, but bounced back last year to post his best season.
  • P Tim Masthay: Capped his first season with the Packers by averaging 40.5 yards and allowing the Steelers just 5 yards on punt returns in the game. Signed a four-year, $5.465 million contract extension on July 26, 2012.
  • LS Brett Goode: Has been the long snapper since 2008 and signed a three-year, $2.715 million contract extension on Oct. 13, 2012.
  • CB Jarrett Bush: Special teams player who was pressed into defensive duty in the game after injuries to Sam Shields and Charles Woodson, and intercepted a Ben Roethlisberger pass in the second quarter. Signed a three-year, $5.25 million contract on March 26, 2012.
Headed for free agency next month

  • RB James Starks: Started the Super Bowl and rushed for 52 yards on 11 carries. Battled injuries most of his career, and might not be re-signed.
  • WR James Jones: Caught five passes for 50 yards in the game, and signed a three-year, $9.6 million contract on Aug. 2, 2011. Caught 59 passes for a career-high 817 yards in 2013, and could be a re-signed despite his age (will turn 30 next month).
  • DT Ryan Pickett: Started the game, made two tackles and was in on the play in which Matthews forced Rashard Mendehall's fourth-quarter fumble. Played in all 16 games last season with a base salary of $5.4 million, but might be at the age (34) where the Packers let him walk.
  • DT B.J. Raji: Capped a strong 2010 postseason with a pair of tackles in the game. Finished his rookie contract in 2013, and reportedly turned down an $8 million-per-year offer last season.
  • DE C.J. Wilson: Started the game, but played only 14 snaps. Biggest impact came the night before the game, when he kept things loose in the team hotel by playing piano and leading a team sign-along. Finished his rookie contract in 2013.
  • FB John Kuhn: Played on both offense and special teams in the game. Signed a three-year, $7.5 million contract on Aug. 1, 2011.
  • CB Sam Shields: Suffered a shoulder injury in the second quarter of the game. Had his best season in 2013 while playing under the restricted free agent tender of $2.023 million. Will command a big contract either from the Packers or another team in free agency.
  • LB Robert Francois: Went back and forth from the practice squad to the active roster throughout the 2010 season, and played on special teams in the game. Played last season under a one-year, $725,000 deal, but tore his Achilles tendon on Oct. 6.
  • TE Andrew Quarless: Caught one pass for 5 yards in the game. Suffered a major knee injury the next season and missed all of 2012. Returned last season to catch 32 passes for 312 yards (both career highs) in the final year of his rookie deal.
  • QB Matt Flynn: Served as Rodgers’ backup but did not play in the Super Bowl. Left after the 2011 season as a free agent, and after stints with Seattle, Oakland and Buffalo, he returned to the Packers last season for a one-year minimum deal and played in five games after Rodgers broke his collarbone.
  • C Evan Dietrich-Smith: Was inactive for the Super Bowl. Became a starter late in 2012 and for all of 2013, when he played under the restricted free agent tender of $1.323 million deal.
With other teams

  • [+] EnlargeMcCarthy
    Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsCoach Mike McCarthy and the Packers have seen a lot of roster turnover since winning Super Bowl XLV.
    WR Greg Jennings: Started and became just the third player in team history to catch multiple touchdowns in a Super Bowl by recording touchdowns of 21 and 8 yards. Signed a five-year, $45 million contract with the Vikings last March.
  • G Daryn Colledge: Started at left guard, but left in free agency a few months later to sign a five-year, $27.5 million contract with the Cardinals. Has started every game for the Cardinals since.
  • C Scott Wells: Started at center and remained with the Packers through the 2011 season before signing a four-year, $24 million contract with the Rams. Has missed 13 games over the past two seasons because of injuries.
  • LB Desmond Bishop: Became a starter earlier in 2010 after Nick Barnett's wrist injury and made nine tackles in the Super Bowl. Also recovered the fumble that Matthews forced. Signed a four-year, $19 million contract in 2011, but was released after missing the entire 2012 season because of a hamstring injury. Signed with the Vikings last offseason, but appeared in only four games.
  • OLB Frank Zombo: Started the game and had the Packers’ only sack of Roethlisberger but battled injuries the next two years and was released. Signed with the Chiefs last year and appeared in all 16 games.
  • CB Charles Woodson: Started at cornerback, but broke his collarbone late in the second quarter and missed the remainder of the game. Played two more seasons with the Packers, who released him last year. Returned to his old team, the Raiders, and played in all 16 games last season.
  • DE Cullen Jenkins: Played 36 snaps and had a pair of quarterback pressures. Left in free agency the following year and signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Eagles, who released him after two years. Signed a three-year, $8 million contract with the Giants last season.
  • TE Tom Crabtree: Played on both offense and special teams in the Super Bowl, catching one pass. Left last year to sign with the Buccaneers as an unrestricted free agent, but was limited to seven games because of injuries.
  • CB Josh Gordy: Was inactive for the game, and the next season was signed off the practice squad the by the Rams. Spent the past two seasons with the Colts.
  • G Nick McDonald: Was inactive for the game, like he was for every game that season. Was released in training camp the next year, and spent parts of the next two seasons with the Patriots. Did not play in 2013, but was recently signed by the Chargers.
  • OLB Erik Walden: Was inactive after suffering an ankle injury in the NFC Championship Game. Played the next two seasons before signing a four-year, $16 million contract with the Colts last year.
  • DE: Jarius Wynn: Was active but did not play. Played in Green Bay through 2011, and with the Titans and Chargers before landing with the Cowboys last season.
  • FB Quinn Johnson: Inactive for the game. Was traded to the Titans in 2011. Has played in 24 games for the Titans over the past three years.
Out of football

  • T Chad Clifton: Started at left tackle, but his long career with the Packers ended when they released him after he played in only six games in 2011. Was never signed by another team.
  • WR Donald Driver: Started the game and caught two passes for 28 yards before leaving with an ankle injury in the second quarter. Retired after the 2012 season as the team’s all-time leading receiver.
  • S Nick Collins: Started and made a key early play when he returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. Suffered a neck injury in Week 2 of 2011 and hasn’t played since.
  • DT Howard Green: Claimed off waivers earlier that season and started the game. His hit on Roethlisberger led to Collins’ interception return for a touchdown. Returned in 2011 and played in all 16 games, but has not played since.
  • WR Brett Swain: Posted a team-high four special teams tackles. Was released the following season and played briefly with the 49ers. Was cut in training camp last season by the Seahawks.
  • S Atari Bigby: Played on special teams. Signed with the Seahawks the following season and played in 15 games. Played in eight games with the Chargers in 2012, but did not play in 2013.
  • CB Pat Lee: Special teams player who saw action on defense after injuries to Woodson and Shields. Played one more season in Green Bay before splitting time in 2012 between the Lions and Raiders. Did not play in 2013.
  • RB Brandon Jackson: Played as the third-down back, but did not have any carries in the game. Caught one pass for 14 yards. Signed a two-year, $4.5 million contract with the Browns in 2011, but missed all of that season and played in only two games in 2012.
  • FB Korey Hall: Caught one pass for 2 yards and made one special teams tackle in the game. He played in 13 games with the Saints in 2011, and retired after going to camp with the Cardinals in 2012.
  • S Charlie Peprah: Led the Packers with 10 tackles (including nine solo stops). Returned as a starter in 2011, when he had five interceptions, but was released shortly before training camp in 2012. Played in five games for the Cowboys in 2012.
  • LB Diyral Briggs: Made one special teams tackle in the game, but never played in another NFL game.
  • LB Matt Wilhelm: Made two special teams tackles, but seven-year career ended after that game.
  • G Jason Spitz: Played on special teams. Left in free agency the next year and signed a three-year, $4.05 million contract with the Jaguars, who released him in training camp last summer. He signed with the Seahawks, but was released on Oct. 12.
  • TE Donald Lee: Played in the game, but did not have a catch and was released two months later. Played in nine games for the Bengals in 2001.
  • QB Graham Harrell: Inactive for the game. Remained with the Packers until he was released in training camp last summer. Also spent time briefly with the Jets before being released.
  • RB Dimitri Nance: Inactive for the game. Was released by the Packers the following summer and never played in another NFL game.
  • CB Brandon Underwood: Inactive for the game. Was released in 2011. Went to camp with the Raiders in 2012 and Cowboys in 2013, but did not make either team.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Earlier this month, we revealed our All-NFC North team as voted on by the four NFL Nation reporters who cover this division.

In that exercise, six Green Bay Packers were honored.

On Wednesday, unveiled its All-NFC North team. It also featured six members of the Packers, but it didn’t exactly match what was selected by our team of reporters.

The matches were: left guard Josh Sitton, defensive lineman Mike Daniels and cornerback Sam Shields.

However, PFF selected quarterback Aaron Rodgers, running back Eddie Lacy and receiver Jordy Nelson. None of those three made the team, which included outside linebacker Clay Matthews and both specialists – kicker Mason Crosby and punter Tim Masthay.

On our team, Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions was the quarterback.

In selecting Rodgers, who missed nearly half the season because of his broken collarbone, PFF’s Nathan Jahnke wrote: “There were definitely steps in the right direction made by Matthew Stafford, but it wasn’t enough to put him on the same level as Rodgers even though Rodgers missed a big part of the season. When healthy Rodgers is just too accurate a passer and for that reason he remains in his own class here.”

While PFF picked only one running back, Lacy, we selected two – Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings and Matt Forte of the Chicago Bears.

“While Adrian Peterson might be a better runner, and Matt Forte a better receiver, Eddie Lacy gets this spot for being the better all-around player,” Jahnke wrote. “Lacy was among the best runners in the league and became a larger part of the passing game as the season went on. He also was among the best pass blocking backs which is typically something rookies struggle with and also something that Peterson and Forte aren’t great at.”

Nelson got the nod as PFF’s third receiver, along with Detroit’s Calvin Johnson and Chicago’s Brandon Marshall. On our team, we selected only two receivers -- Johnson and Chicago’s Alshon Jeffery.

“Even though some teams in the NFC North often use a second tight end or fullback, it was impossible to not include at least three wide receivers,” Jahnke wrote. “While Alshon Jeffery had an incredible sophomore season, the trio of Johnson, Marshall and Nelson were three of the top four rated wide receivers this year. If a team had all three of these receivers, I don’t know how they could lose.”

PFF did not pick Matthews, who missed five games because of a broken thumb. Instead, its linebackers were DeAndre Levy and Stephen Tulloch of the Lions (both of which were on our team) along with Minnesota’s Erin Henderson.

PFF picked Minnesota’s Blair Walsh instead of Crosby and Detroit’s Sam Martin instead of Masthay.

In all, 14 players made both our team and the one selected by PFF, which breaks down every play of every NFL game and assigns numerical ratings to every player each week.

Breaking down the roster rankings

January, 21, 2014
Jan 21
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- On Monday, we concluded our ranking of the entire Green Bay Packers’ roster as it stood at the end of the season.

The rankings were based on 2013 individual performance.

Now, let’s look at some bigger picture trends based on those rankings, subjective as they were.

Average rank for offensive players: 31

Average rank for defensive players: 35.3

Average rank for specialists (kicker, punter, long snapper): 18.7

Average rank for 2013 draft class: 36

Offensive players in the top 20: 13 Defensive players in the top 20: 5 Specialists in the top 20: 2 Rookies in the top 20: 2
  • 1. Lacy
  • 14. Bakhtiari
Second-year players in the top 20: 2
  • 5. Daniels
  • 17. Boykin
Upcoming free agents in the top 20: 6
  • 6. Shields
  • 12. Jones
  • 13. Finley
  • 15. Kuhn
  • 19. Flynn
  • 20. Dietrich-Smith
Notes: The offensive and defensive averages reflect where the Packers finished in the rankings on each side of the ball. They ranked third in total yards per game, third in passing yards, seventh in rushing yards and tied for eighth in points. On defense, they ranked 25th in yards allowed, 24th against the pass, 25th against the run and tied for 24th in points allowed. ...The Packers got better performance out of their 2013 draft class than they did from their 2012 class, which had only one player (Daniels) ranked better than 30th. The other second-year player in the top 20 (Boykin) was undrafted. … With six unrestricted free agents among the top 20, there will be some difficult decisions to make, and that group doesn’t even include DT B.J. Raji (who was 27th in the rankings).
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- On Monday, we began our rankings of the Green Bay Packers’ roster as it stood at season’s end.

The rankings are based on how the players performed this season – not on their overall importance to the team.

We started at the bottom of the roster and are working our way up.

Here are the previous installments:

Part 1 -- Nos. 51-64.

Part 2 -- Nos. 41-50.

Part 3 -- Nos. 31-40.

Part 4 -- Nos. 21-30.

Now, we look at Nos. 11-20, a group that includes eight offensive players, one defensive player and one specialist.

The top 10 will appear on Monday.

11. Randall Cobb, WR: Was the Packers’ leader in receptions when he sustained a fractured tibia in Week 6 against the Ravens. Spent the next 10 weeks on the injured reserve/designated to return list before coming back for the Week 17 game against the Bears. Showed his value to the offense as a speedy slot receiver by catching a pair of touchdowns, including the 48-yard game winner against the Bears. Dropped only one pass in 42 targets, after dropping 11 in 110 targets the previous season, according to Pro Football Focus.

12. James Jones, WR: Gritty veteran was on his way to his first 1,000-yard season until a knee injury cost him nearly three full games. Still managed to finish second on the team in both receptions (59) and yards (817), the latter of which was a career high. Dropped just three passes in 93 targets, according to PFF. Will turn 30 on March 31, a few weeks after he is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. Despite depth at wide receiver, he may be too valuable not to re-sign.

13. Jermichael Finley, TE: Like Cobb and Jones, was on track for a big season until his season ended on Oct. 20 because of a neck injury that left him momentarily motionless and required spinal fusion surgery. Before that, averaged 12.0 yards on 25 catches and had three touchdowns in parts of only six games in the final year of his contract. Still young enough -- he will turn 27 on March 26 -- to warrant another sizeable contract but only if the Packers have no reservations about his neck. Otherwise, they could let him walk.

14. David Bakhtiari, T: Rookie fourth-round pick started all 17 games at left tackle after Bryan Bulaga’s season ending knee injury in training camp. Though he allowed 10 sacks in 17 games, seven of them came in three games (including four in the two meetings with the 49ers). Had a stretch of seven straight games in which he didn’t allow a sack. Performed well in the running game. Could use a little more strength and bulk but his quickness and intelligence served him well. Needs to cut down on his penalties. Had a team-high 13, including nine holding.

15. John Kuhn, FB: Unsung hero who served as a third-down blocking back, a short-yardage ball carrier and a core special-teams player. Made perhaps the key block of the season, when he chipped Bears defensive end Julius Peppers just enough to allow Aaron Rodgers to hit Cobb for the game-winning touchdown in Week 17 that clinched the NFC North title. Scheduled to be a free agent, there’s a strong sentiment in the locker room and among the coaches to bring him back even though he will turn 32 the first week of the season.

16. A.J. Hawk, LB: Ranked second on the defensive side in playing time (94.9 percent of the snaps) and once again showed his dependability. Had his best season since 2010 and maybe of his career but still has the same limitations in the open field. Took over as the defensive signal-caller after an early season injury to Brad Jones. Led the team in tackles on the way to setting the franchise career tackle record. Had five sacks, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

17. Jarrett Boykin, WR: Enter his second season as an unproven receiver but stepped into a larger role after the injuries to Cobb and Jones and performed like a veteran. Finished third on the team with 49 catches and 681 yards with three touchdowns despite not catching a single pass until Week 6. Dropped five passes in 76 targets. His emergence could make Jones expendable.

18. Tim Masthay, P: Broke his own franchise record for net punting average (39.0 yards) and landed 22 of his 64 punts inside the 20-yard line while having only five touchbacks.

19. Matt Flynn, QB: Re-signed on Nov. 12 and inserted in the third quarter against the Vikings 12 days later. Helped rally the Packers to a 24-24 tie in that game and then went 2-2 as a starter over the next four games before Rodgers returned from his broken collarbone. Completed 61.4 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and four interceptions. Scheduled to be a free agent again, lack of arm strength may prevent him from getting another shot as a starter, so he could return as a backup.

20. Evan Dietrich-Smith, C: First full season as a starter and was an upgrade over Jeff Saturday from 2012 but still may not have done enough to be considered the long-term starter. Struggled at times in the running game but proved to be an effective pass protector, allowing five sacks according to PFF. Committed only three penalties (two holds and a false start).
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- On Monday, we began our rankings of the Green Bay Packers' roster as it stood at season's end.

The rankings are based on how the players performed this season – not on their overall importance to the team.

We started at the bottom of the roster and are working our way up.

Here are the previous installments:

Part 1 – Nos. 51-64.

Part 2 – Nos. 41-50.

Part 3 – Nos. 31-40.

Now, we look at Nos. 21-30, a group that includes one rookie and two former first-round draft picks.

21. Micah Hyde, CB: Rookie fifth-round pick played nearly 40 percent of the defensive snaps in the nickel (slot cornerback) position. Allowed completions on 73.1 percent of the times he was targeted but usually tackled well, giving up an average of only 4.5 yards after the catch, according to Allowed just one touchdown pass and missed only three tackles, fewest among the regulars in the secondary. Was not called for an accepted penalty. Took over the punt return duties after Randall Cobb's injury on Oct. 13 and ranked fifth in the NFL with a 12.3-yard average. Returned one punt for a touchdown. Has a bright future and could possibly end up moving to safety.

22. James Starks, RB: Averaged a career-best 5.5 yards per carry in mostly a backup role and matched his career-high of playing in 13 regular-season games. Rushed for 132 yards on 20 carries in Week 2 against Washington after starter Eddie Lacy was concussed in the first quarter. Started Week 3 against the Bengals and gained 55 yards on 14 first-half carries but couldn't finish because of a knee injury that kept him out the next three games. Had touchdown runs of 25, 32 and 32 yards and also had runs of 34 and 41 yards. Scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, his durability issues will scare teams away, so he could return in a similar role.

23. Jarrett Bush, CB: Veteran played perhaps his best defensive football while serving as the dime defensive back over the final five weeks of the season. Did not allow a touchdown pass and had the game-clinching interception in the late stages of the Week 14 win over the Atlanta Falcons. However, he blew containment on Colin Kaepernick's third-and-8 scramble that set up the game-winning field goal as time expired in the playoff loss to the 49ers. Finished tied for fourth on the team in special teams tackles (seven) despite missing four games because of a hamstring injury. Once was one of the most penalized players on the team, but was flagged for only one (an illegal block) in 2013.

24. Mike Neal, OLB: Made the transition from defensive end and saw more playing time (65.9 percent) than any outside linebacker on the roster. Battled through a couple of injuries but did not miss a game for the first time in his four-year career but then left in the first quarter of the playoff game because of a knee injury. Had a career-high five sacks and also had an interception and a forced fumble but struggled with some of the other aspects of playing on the outside. Missed 11 tackles, tied for the second-most on the team. An unrestricted free agent whose return is not a guarantee.

25. Johnny Jolly, DT: Made a successful comeback from a prison sentence and a three-year NFL suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. Played well early in the season, when the Packers had a top-5 run defense, but his decline mirrored the Packers' fall to 25th against the run. Missed only one tackle while playing 25.7 percent of the snaps, most in obvious run situations. Sustained a season-ending neck injury in Week 15 against the Cowboys, although it is not believed to be career threatening. At age 30 and scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, still looks likely to return for a moderate price.

26. Ryan Pickett, DT: At age 34 and in his 13th NFL season, played in every game for the second straight season. Ranked third on the defense in playing time (48.0 percent of the snaps), led the defensive line in tackles and was not charged with a single missed tackle. Doesn't get much done as a pass- rusher anymore -- last sack came in the 2010 season. An unrestricted free agent, his age and decline in play might spell the end in Green Bay.

27. B.J. Raji, DT: Made less of an impact than in any of his previous four seasons, which could hurt his value as an unrestricted free if the Packers don't re-sign him. Reportedly turned down an $8 million-per-year offer at some point last year but would be hard pressed to get that kind of money from the Packers now. Still led the defensive linemen in playing time (58.7 percent) but failed to record a sack for the second straight season. Although he has been non-committal about returning, there's a sense among some inside the organization that Raji would rather try his hand in a different scheme.

28. Don Barclay, T: Started all but two games at right tackle and was solid in the running game but struggled in pass protection. Allowed nine sacks -- one fewer than left David Bakhtiari, who gave up a team-high 10 in 17 games. Also allowed 27 quarterback hurries in 15 games, one fewer than Bakhtiari did in 17, according to Ranked third among Packers' offensive linemen with five penalties (three false starts, two holding). With the expected return of Bryan Bulaga next season from his knee injury, Barclay likely will go back to being a backup.

29. Brett Goode, LS: Veteran did not have any major problems on his snaps for punter Tim Masthay or on Mason Crosby's placekicks. Made only one tackle on the punt coverage team. Expected to be the snapper for the near future.

30. Nick Perry, OLB: Injuries hampered the former first-round pick's transition from a college defensive end for the second straight season. Sustained a foot injury on a strip-sack in Week 6 against the Ravens and missed five of the next six games. Still was hobbled upon his return and played only 38.3 percent of the snaps. Posted four sacks and eight quarterback hits while forcing three fumbles. Committed a terrible gaffe on special teams, when he jumped off sides with 1:35 remaining in Week 16 when the Steelers were lined up for a field goal. The penalty gave the Steelers a first down, and they then scored the game-winning touchdown.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- In 16 regular-season games plus the NFC wild-card playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the Green Bay Packers’ special teams was on the field for 511 plays, according to weekly snap counts kept by the NFL.

Special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum used 58 different players on his units this season. That was four more than in 2012 and explains why coach Mike McCarthy said all the personnel changes caused in large part by injuries caught up with the Packers’ special teams by year’s end.

The Packers finished the regular season ranked seventh in punt return average (thanks largely in part to rookie returner Micah Hyde) but just 30th in kickoff return average. Slocum’s units struggled in coverage, ranking 29th in both punt return and kickoff return average allowed.

The specialists -- kicker Mason Crosby, punter Tim Masthay and long-snapper Brett Goode -- all had strong seasons.

Davon House, who played a team-high 338 snaps on special teams, led the Packers with 12 special teams tackles.

Here are the snap-count leaders on special teams with playing-time percentages in parenthesis. We’re not going to list all 58 players, but rather those who appeared on at least 10 percent of all special teams plays this season. (Earlier, we looked at playing time for every player on offense and on defense this season):