By Tuesday afternoon, every NFL team must have no more than 75 men on their roster. The Green Bay Packers have already begun that process, having released a handful of players including punter Peter Mortell.
Though punters usually don't receive much attention unless they make a mistake, Mortell hails from Green Bay and had a genuine opportunity to win the job with his hometown team.
With Mortell out of the picture, incumbent Tim Masthay has the inside track for the job.
"Tim Masthay, he's in the driver's seat."
Green Bay Packers' head coach Mike McCarthy spoke those words during his media availability on Monday. Masthay outlasted his challenger, undrafted rookie and hometown kid Peter Mortell, through a tight battle through training camp and the preseason. Mortell's raw numbers (45.1-yard gross average, 42.0-yard net) actually outpaced those for Masthay (42.8 gross, 31.6 net), but the latter's superior hang time and consistency convinced the Packers to move on. At least for now…
Because Masthay still has another preseason game left, the possibility remains that the team could reverse its decision prior to the start of the regular season. Alternatively, Green Bay could decide neither of the punters they kept through the offseason deserve the job and bring someone in from the outside, à la their decision to cut Jon Ryan and sign Derrick Frost back in 2008.
For the second time since the Packers selected him, rookie defensive tackle Kenny Clark has some work to make up. Earlier in the offseason, NFL rules prohibited Clark from attending the team's workouts as his school, UCLA, remained in session. Now, a back injury has kept him on the sidelines with the regular season fast approaching. Though he expects to return in time for Week 1, the lack of usual reps could potentially affect him.
Last year, the New York Giants released wide receiver James Jones at the exact time the Packers needed a proven veteran for their offense. That doesn't appear to be the case in 2016, but should injuries hit the receiving corps in Green Bay, perhaps Jones could once again receive a call from his old team.