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updated: 1/21/2011 12:45 PM

Packers punter knows challenge ahead

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  • When the Packers played at Soldier Field last September, a punt down the middle of the field started Devin Hester on a 62-yard return for a touchdown. Packers punter Tim Masthay (8) couldn't stop him.

    When the Packers played at Soldier Field last September, a punt down the middle of the field started Devin Hester on a 62-yard return for a touchdown. Packers punter Tim Masthay (8) couldn't stop him.
    Associated Press

  • Bears punt returner Devin Hester finds an opening as he heads for a touchdown against the Packers last September at Soldier Field. Hester has averaged 25.4 yards on 5 returns against Green Bay this season.

      Bears punt returner Devin Hester finds an opening as he heads for a touchdown against the Packers last September at Soldier Field. Hester has averaged 25.4 yards on 5 returns against Green Bay this season.
    STEVE LUNDY | Staff Photographer

 

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Packers punter Tim Masthay didn't promise to kick to Devin Hester this weekend. He didn't vow not to kick to Hester.

Here's the commitment he did offer: Like so many other punters that deal with the Bears, he'd prefer to pin Hester right against the sideline.

Masthay just doesn't think it's realistic to expect it to happen each time he steps on the field.

"It's hard to do that because you have to do everything perfectly mechanically to get that done," Masthay said. "Then you add cold and wind and it makes getting things done perfectly that much more difficult."

When Green Bay came to Soldier Field in September, Hester returned a punt 62 yards for a score.

In the two games combined, Hester averaged 25.4 yards on 5 returns.

"Ball placement and coverage: That's what it comes down to," said Packers coach Mike McCarthy. "The (TD) return in the first game, the ball was punted right down the middle of the field."

Rest assured, Masthay won't be aiming there on Sunday. But those swirling Soldier Field winds might decide otherwise.

As Masthay, who ranked 18th during the regular season with a net 37.6-yard average, described in a brief treatise Wednesday on punting technique:

"When I'm talking about trying to get your perfect mechanics down, particularly in the cold and wind, you try to drop the ball pretty flat.

"If you're trying to drive the ball, you might drop the nose a little down. If you're not trying to drive it, you might...

"I just mean it becomes that much harder because the wind can, and the feeling in your hands, if that drop moves just a little bit on you, you might still hit a good punt. But you're not going to hit it exactly where you were aiming.

"That's why you don't see guys hitting 40-yard punts out of bounds on a routine basis. It's that hard to do. Especially when it's cold and windy."

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