Green Bay Packers Season Preview: Special Teams

Jake WinieckiCorrespondent IIIJuly 8, 2010


Last season the Packers were one of the worst teams in the league in special teams coverage, return yards, and special teams penalties. That said, they still have the potential to be very good.

Return man Will Blackmon missed the majority of the season to a torn ACL suffered in week 4 vs. the Vikings. Blackmon was one of the better punt returners in the NFC in 2008 and is looking to return to form this season and hopefully stay healthy.

Jordy Nelson did a decent job last year in place of Blackmon, but with an expected increased role as a receiver, the team may want to keep from him playing on special teams too much.

Added to the mix is undrafted rookie Sam Shields of Miami. He showed dynamic return skills and incredible speed in college, especially against the Wisconsin Badgers last year. Even though John Clay ran all over Miami in a Badger win.

Shields struggled holding onto the ball in mini-camp punt return drills.  hat may have lowered his stock. He can recover with a strong training camp and pre-season can help him make the team. An exceptional performance might win Shields the starting return job.

One of the biggest position battles that will take place in training camp will be between punters Tim Masthay and Chris Bryan.

It appears they are dead even right now. Masthay is a more conventional punter with a stronger leg than Bryan. Chris Bryan is a 28-year-old rookie and former Australian Rules player with a lot of talent and consistency. It's hard to tell now who will win that job. The deciding factor will likely be production in the pre-season.

As for the kicking situation, Mason Crosby will be the starting kicker this year with no one else on the roster. He struggled with consistency last year, but has a lot of talent and a very strong leg. If he can improve, that will help the team significantly, especially in late game situations.

Overall the special teams play is all over the place. They have a lot a talent and potential but need to put it together this season, especially on kick and punt returns.