GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Jermaine Whitehead wasn't the only one who erred on the opening kickoff but a day after the Green Bay Packers gave up a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to start Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts, the rookie safety paid for his mistake with his job.
The Packers cut him on Monday and promoted rookie fullback Joe Kerridge from the practice squad to take his place. The move was likely made for special-teams purposes given that a second fullback probably wouldn't see the field on offense.
Whitehead played in only two games since he was promoted from the practice squad on Oct. 24, and appeared only on special teams.
On the first play of Sunday's 31-26 loss to the Colts, Whitehead lost his containment and then got blocked into teammate Kyler Fackrell, which helped clear a hole for returner to Jordan Todman, who also had a 61-yard kickoff return later in the game. The chain of events that led to the return can be seen in these still shots taken from the game broadcast on CBS.
"Ball placement was poor and lane integrity was poor," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "If you go back and watch it, it's clearly evident what happened. One guy takes out another guy and we didn't react to it very well. I mean, [Todman] wasn’t even touched."
Mason Crosby's kickoff was too close to the middle of the field for the coverage that special teams coordinator Ron Zook called.
"The kick wasn't where it needed to be, which Mason will be the first to tell you," Zook said Monday. "We get a guy [Whitehead] that gets out of lane and gets thrown down into another guy who knocks him out of his lane. So we’ve got two guys out of their lanes, and then we get guys who don't come across the blockers. In the National Football League, it's bad enough when you have one mistake like that, let alone two or three, and obviously they all hit, and that's why it turned out the way it did."
It's not the first time the Packers have cut a player immediately after a special teams gaffe. In 2013, they dumped returner Jeremy Ross the day after he fumbled on a kickoff in a loss to the Bengals.
The Packers might not be done with roster moves this week. They're scheduled to work out veteran free agent running back Joique Bell this week.