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JK Scott Shows He's No Joke

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JK Scott Shows He's No Joke

The Packers’ 31-17 win in the preseason opener against the Titans gave fans their first look at many young players. Members of the 2018 draft class shone bright on offense and defense—notably receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling and linebacker Oren Burks—but most Packer fans got their first look at a key special teams rookie, as well: punter JK Scott.

It’s considered a victory that Scott only had to punt twice in the game, as the offense accumulated 31 first downs and 445 yards. But the Alabama product has put on a show at various training camp practices, and his skills were on full display Thursday night, especially in the third quarter.

After the Green Bay offense stalled at its own 35-yard line, Scott put his foot into the ball and dropped it at Tennessee’s 13-yard line. Demetri Goodson finished the play by tackling Titans return man Nick Williams for no gain.

Head coach Mike McCarthy was effusive in his praise of the rookie in Thursday’s postgame press conference, addressing the 52-yard punt specifically.

“That’s what he does every day,” McCarthy said. “I’ve been so impressed with him in practice, and it was good to see him kick live out there. [He’s an] extremely talented young man and very consistent.”

McCarthy did acknowledge that Scott’s first punt, a 31-yarder that prompted a fair catch at the Titans’ 21-yard line, wasn’t ideal. “He probably wanted a little more on it,” McCarthy told reporters. But the overall evaluation seemed overwhelmingly positive from the Packers’ longtime coach.

Scott also kicked off twice in the game, earning two touchbacks. If Thursday was any indication, Mason Crosby will remain the primary kickoff man in 2018, but the additional skill could become more valuable as Crosby, 33, continues to age.

First year general manager Brian Gutekunst raised some eyebrows in this year’s draft when he selected Scott in the fifth round, 172nd overall. While using draft picks on specialists can put a GM under the microscope, Scott’s training camp performance has made it evident why he was one of four punters drafted in 2018. Various reporters have made Scott’s punting excellence in practice public, even tweeting the distance and hang time of the lanky rookie’s kicks.

Alabama fans are totally unsurprised that Scott has drawn early attention on his pro team after the 21-year-old had one of the best punting careers in college football history. A four-year starter, Scott was a field-position flipper for a team with perennial national championship aspirations.

Scott led the entire country in gross punting his freshman season, averaging 48.0 yards per kick. His 45.6-yard career average is the fifth highest in college football since 2000.

Punting certainly wasn’t the most exciting part of Thursday’s preseason victory, and Packers fans are hoping to use the 6-foot-6 rookie minimally this season. But Scott has been considered a legitimate prospect for a while, and a good punting game could become the best friend of a defense that has struggled in recent seasons and may take some time to find its groove under a new coordinator.

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Matt Kelley is a staff writer for Cheesehead TV. He can be found on Twitter via @hustleandheart1

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (20) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

4thand1's picture

Things are looking up, way up as in high punts.

The TKstinator's picture

That boy can punt!

4thand1's picture

A good hooker can make more.

Johnblood27's picture

so says my ex-wife...

LambeauPlain's picture

50-5 Scott (yds and hang time).

Codywaligursky's picture

I've followed his career since his freshman year at Bama, amazing punter and person. I hope he has a long, long career with the Packers.

Gforcetrivers's picture

I tell you what...just this and no other changes in the team from last year...WE do better!

Gforcetrivers's picture

I tell you what...just this and no other changes in the team from last year...WE do better!

Oppy's picture

So far, so great. This was something I was very concerned could have gone south on us.. and I couldn't be happier he's doing good.

porupack's picture

Thanks for the callout on the punter. Gute got some negative comments after the draft. So as said in the article; raised some eyebrows... this would be one of those gutsy , er Gutesy moves. Too early for sure, but it could be a another big stroke of brilliance in addition to some FA signings and draft that restocked the depleted TE, WR and CB and not to forget, the ST shelves. Hope the longsnapper gets it.

Oppy's picture

For a lot of Pack fans, drafting a punter instantly brought back the putrid taste in the mouth that has been associated with Mike Sherman's 3rd round pick of B.J. Sander in 2004... A punter who couldn't kick in the cold and played one season in the NFL Europe and one for the Packers before never being heard of again.

DraftHobbyist's picture

That's because if Aaron Nagler doesn't like something, his following freaks out. There's nothing controversial about drafting a Punter. This year alone, there were 3 Punters taken in the 5th Round alone, then another one in the 7th Round. There were also a number of other specialists drafted between kickers, long snappers, and fullbacks.

I'd much rather use one late round pick to fill the position for a decade, rather than take yet another long shot on skill position, lineman, etc., most of who are going to be cut anyways. Consider that Mason Crosby was a 6th Round pick, and look at how long he has held the fort as our kicker. I just don't understand people who are philosophically against drafting specialists, especially when we're talking about late round picks. My general rule is Day 3 is the earliest I want to take one so 4th Round at the very earliest if he's absolutely fantastic as a prospect, but probably 5th or later.

cheesycowboy's picture

Who hits a jumbotron first?
12 or 6?

PAPackerbacker's picture

This young man will prove to be an invaluable asset to the team in those close games down to the wire. He can pin an opponent deep in their own territory with that long hang time and big leg. And his attitude is top notch. Got to love this kid. Always looking for ways to improve his skills and learn. Great draft pick, great kid. I wish him the best.

PatrickGB's picture

But can he tackle? ;-)
Of course with his punts he probably won’t have to.
It seems he is a good holder as well. I did worry about his get off time because of his one step style but that seems to be a nonissue.

Maddygirl1's picture

Gut is looking more and more like a good, maybe great GM (a bit early to give him the "great" title). But he's already done so many things Ted would never even consider and by all accounts, most people would say this roster has gotten better this off season. Of course coach Mac also looks like he made some good moves with the coaching staff. But makes me wonder if a change at GM should have been made years ago. Now all Gute needs to do is trade a few low first round picks for K Mack! Go Gute!!!

Nick Perry's picture

"But makes me wonder if a change at GM should have been made years ago."

No need to "Wonder" about that Maddygirl1...The answer to that question is a resounding HELL YES!! Thompson should receive credit for building a SB winning team in 2010. The picks he made in 2005 through 2009 were the core of the Packers SB winning team along with the only real FA signings of Woodson and Pickett those first 5 years. He even made some great picks since then but has failed miserably in keeping some and putting others around them by using FA and/or trades.

Thompson got drunk on his own success with UDFA's like Tramon Williams and Sam Shields and tried to supplement his roster with nothing but UDFA's for years.

stockholder's picture

I love this picture. The older guy with gray hairs. Talking to his adopted son.

carlos's picture

Love the kid. Maybe more so because he looks like he’s 15 years old to me. Yes, I’m old. He can punt the football. Hopefully he only gets better and the Packers figure out the long snapper situation. You can’t judge Gute by one preseason game, obviously, but he had some talent on the field Thursday night.

DraftHobbyist's picture

I've mentioned this before, but I think JK Scott has legitimate All-Pro potential. He has been extremely successful in college, and Punting really doesn't change that much from college to the pros. Sure, he has to worry a little more about the pressure and make sure he gets the ball off a little quicker, but there's no reason to think that will be a problem at this point. In college, from 2014 to 2017 (starting at 2014), here's what he averaged: 48.0, 44.2, 47.2, and 63.2 yards. Purely ridiculous.

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