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Picking up Where He Left off, Pepper Elated to Be Back in Green Bay

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Picking up Where He Left off, Pepper Elated to Be Back in Green Bay

In the whirlwind of injuries that have plagued the Green Bay Packers so far this season, veteran long snapper Brett Goode became the fifth player to be placed on the team's injured reserve.

"It's unfortunate, he toughed it out just to play through the game—the way he did is a real credit to him," said head coach Mike McCarthy on Monday. Goode suffered a hamstring injury early in Sunday's overtime win over the Cincinnati Bengals. He still played through his injury, including snapping the ball on Mason Crosby's game-winning field goal.

"He gutted it out. It was outstanding."

They had no choice but to virtually end Goode's season -- for now -- due to the quick turnaround from Sunday and having to host the Chicago Bears just four days later on Thursday Night Football. With their slew of injuries and lack of time to workout a fresh face, a familiar one was brought back for a second time.

This is where Taybor Pepper, a 6-4, 245-pound rookie long snapper, comes into the picture. He previously held long-snapping duties at Michigan State University for a 54-game duration before being signed to the Packers in the early portion of this past offseason. Unfortunately, he was released by May when the Packers decided to roll with Derek Hart, who was eventually succeeded by Goode.

"It was a gut check when I got back home," said Pepper after flying into Green Bay on Monday. "It was kind of tough because I got cut right after the rookie minicamps, so a lot of teams' rosters were filled up. So I just kept my head down, worked hard and my agent was like, 'something good is going to happen, just keep working hard.'"

She was certainly right.

When Pepper, the Michigan native, got the call from the Packers, he was working the cash register in his mother's consignment store in Champagne, Illinois.

He had already spent mandatory minicamp with the Jacksonville Jaguars and part of training camp with the Baltimore Ravens. On top of that, he had a couple of workouts with the New England Patriots and was one of 19 players to do so. Pepper made sure to stay around football constantly, whether it be coming and going between programs over the offseason or working as a special teams coach at his local high school.

When he was first released in May, Pepper found something close to a mentor in tight end Martellus Bennett. It was with the 30-year-old Bennett that Pepper would find a work ethic to emulate. 

"Normally, the rookies would work out later in the day, but he would come and work out with us," Pepper said. "I'd start to go back to the locker room after the lift was over and I saw he was over in the little turf field next to the weight room putting in work, extra footwork, little things; stretching a little bit more. I thought, you know what, he's been in this league a long time, he's made a name for himself.

"One thing I also learned is, as far as some veterans go, sometimes it's not better to do as they say, but do as they do. I was like, you know, this guy's a journeyman. He's been in the league for a decade now, right? He knows what to do."

Reunited, Pepper still has Bennett to offer the occasional pointer to help improve his game. Whether it be by conditioning on the field or training his mind off of it by reading Bennett's book recommendations such as "Outliers" by Malcom Gladwell, which Pepper claimed to have finished within three days.

Pepper will also play in his first ever regular season game Thursday night against the Bears, and although he won't be donning the traditional green and gold, not even the Packers' Color Rush uniforms could mask his evident glee to be back in Green Bay.

"I'm really happy that I'm back here with all these leaders, like, I'm two lockers away from Aaron Rodgers. It's pretty sweet."


Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV and a contributor/analyst for the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (15) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Maybe Pepper can return the favor to Bennett and walk him over to the jugs machine, and feed in some balls.

Lphill's picture

Why can't another lineman learn the skill of long snapper so a roster spot can be better utilized ?

Steve Cheez's picture

It seems that back in the day (things are admittedly getting a bit foggy in the ol' noggin) that long snapping was just something that the normal Center did.
I know a bad snap can be a catastrophe, but were there really that many that it necessitated a specialist to do nothing but?
Not that I'm saying one way or the other, I truly am curious.

dschwalm's picture

I certainly remember those days. Has it been more effective, in terms of accuracy, to have a specialist do it? It must be.

ottscay's picture

It comes down to practice time - the specialists (punter, kicker, long snapper) are practicing on their own while the rest of the team is doing their own work. If a lineman takes enough time each week working with the specialists they won't get enough practice time to stay on the team in their regular position. Likewise, if they spend enough time working on their position work, they don't get in enough practice time to make the punting and field goal kicking reliable, which can easily cost you a game. It's just not worth the hassle.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I will be more worried now about a routine 39 yard field goal attempt with Pepper as the snapper than I would have been with Goode. I think that explains why teams devote a roster spot to a LS, and why when a team finds a good one, the LS tends to make the team year after year after year.

flackcatcher's picture

For most teams the backup center was the teams long snapper. Some teams, like the Packers, their starting center was their long snapper. That changed with roster expansion in the 80's, and you saw the emergent of the specialist. (kick, punt returner, long snapper, punter. all are considered special teams players, now a separate unit of the team) Fast forward to today, even with another expansion of team rosters, the specialist are well, more 'special' than ever. Some of that can be explained in the evolution of the game. But most of it comes down to time. The CBA wipes out the possibility of starters or backups on the line doing long snaps. Players and coaches do not have the time to practice for it. Like most things in the NFL, I blame Jerry Jones. When in doubt, always blame Jerry Jones. You'll feel better in the morning. (unless you are a cowboys fan. Then you have my pity:)

Nick Perry's picture

Hard to believe there's not a veteran LS who might have lost his job to someone younger, one who's played in more than 54 college games available somewhere. I'm not taking anything away from Peppers, for his sake AND the Packers sake I hope every one of his snaps is picture perfect. Just seems to me there would be someone out there that's done this on the Pro Level.

flackcatcher's picture

The Packers would like to clone Brad Davis, but I'm afraid mad science has not quite caught up their wishes, yet.

RCPackerFan's picture

Brad Davis? You mean Rob Davis?

flackcatcher's picture

Yeah. Brad is my EA on the job.

RCPackerFan's picture

As long as Peppers can snap the ball good, that is all that I care about.

I will admit though. Changing long snappers in the season is not a good thing. That affects everything.

I'm curious that they now have released Goode on an injury settlement if they will look to bring him back once he gets healthy.
I'm not completely sure of the rules on that. If Goode got healthy after releasing him on an injury settlement when would they be allowed to resign him?

flackcatcher's picture

They can as long as his contract is completed. Injury settlement does that, Hamstring must be torn, otherwise Packers would have put him on IR with designation to return.

Qoojo's picture

Well, being the pessimist, the combo of new snapper + new holder will eventually cause FG issues. They are both too inexperienced to not make a mistake. While it might not be a glaring a mistake, laces wrong way on a long FG attempt could mean a missed FG.

LayingTheLawe's picture

Taybor Pepper. Sounds like a character in a sci fi story.

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