Packers bring in punting competition

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Veteran punter Tim Masthay struggled down the stretch last season, and the Green Bay Packers are bringing in some competition.

They signed first-year player Cody Mandell on Monday, the team announced.

Mandell spent part of last offseason with the Dallas Cowboys. The former University of Alabama punter played in one preseason game last summer before he was released just two weeks into training camp. He punted three times against the San Diego Chargers, averaged 43.7 yards and placed all three punts inside the 20.

At Alabama, where he first joined the team as a walk-on in 2010, he averaged 42.6 yards per punt in 52 career games. He was a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award as a senior.

Masthay, who has been the Packers' punter since he beat out Australian Chris Bryan in 2010, is under contract through the 2016 season as part of the four-year, $5.465 million extension he signed in 2012. The Packers' career leader in both gross (44.3 yards) and net average (38.3 yards), Masthay’s net average in 2014 was the lowest of his career at 37.0, which ranked 30th in the NFL.

He struggled late in the season, when he averaged just 32.9 net yards per punt over the final eight games of the regular season. The Packers have not had another punter on their roster since Bryan was released at the end of the 2010 preseason.

This does not mean Masthay's time in Green Bay is running out.

In fact, it is probably just a combination of two things: to get a look at Mandell and also to give Masthay some competition. That helped get kicker Mason Crosby turned around in 2013. After Crosby's career-worst season in 2012, when he made just 63.6 percent of his field goals, the Packers put Crosby through a head-to-head competition in training camp. Since then, Crosby has made 85.7 percent of his field goals in the regular season.