Packers Decide Specialist Battle in First Wave of Roster Cuts

Packers First Wave Cuts

Getty JK Scott #6 of the Green Bay Packers punts the ball in the first half against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on November 15, 2018 in Seattle, Washington.

The Green Bay Packers have begun their first roster cuts of the summer.

According to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, the Packers have waived offensive lineman Jon Dietzen, an undrafted rookie out of Wisconsin, along with punter Ryan Winslow ahead of Tuesday’s 3 p.m. CT deadline for teams to reduce their roster size to 85 players. The Packers later confirmed the moves through their transaction wire.

Winslow had been with the Packers since last December, originally serving on their practice squad as an emergency backup plan during the playoffs. The day after their postseason run ended in the NFC Championship Game, the Packers signed Winslow to a reserve/future contract for the 2021 offseason that came with an opportunity to compete with 2018 fifth-round pick JK Scott for his starting job.

Instead, Scott was able to successfully thwart Winslow’s challenge and is now slated to be the Packers’ starting punter for a fourth consecutive season.

The Packers will need to waive three more players before Tuesday’s cutdown deadline. They will also be required to reduce their roster numbers twice more before the end of the month, dropping to 80 players on Aug. 24 and to the initial 53 players on Aug. 31.

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More Trials Await Scott After Camp Victory

The Packers have made renovating their special teams unit a priority since the end of the 2020 season. They fired former special teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga and promoted top assistant Maurice Drayton to take over his job. They also brought in a second player for each of their three specialist positions, including not only Winslow but also long snapper Joe Fortunato (released on Aug. 5) and kicker JJ Molson (still on the roster).

While the introduction of new challengers always seemed designed to push their three starters — Scott, Hunter Bradley and Mason Crosby — to be at the top of their game heading into the 2021 season, the younger two members of the group still have a great deal to prove after both of them underachieved last season.

In Scott’s case specifically, he enters the final year of his contract in 2021 looking to establish more consistency in his punts. Aaron Rodgers threw more touchdowns (48) than Scott took punts (46) during the 2020 regular season, but Scott’s 38.7-yard net average on his punts only ranked 28th out of 30 qualifying punters in the league. While he did play far better down the stretch of the season, the Packers are hoping he can turn a corner in 2021 and sustain his success over an entire year.

“I call our room where we are the ‘Truth Room,’ so we’re going to tell the truth,” Drayton said back in March of both Scott and Bradley. “Some things I cannot say here, but they both know that they have to be more consistent in the things that we need them to do to be successful. They have a prescription that we’ve written for them to work on. They also have their own personal what I call kick doctors or specialist doctors that they’re working with who I’ve fostered a relationship with. They’re getting better and they will be better, and they understand that their backs are against the wall.”

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