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O’Donnell Earns Rare Special Teams Award for Packers Punter

Veteran Packers punter Pat O’Donnell was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his work against the Buccaneers.
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – For the first time in a decade, a Green Bay Packers punter was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. Pat O’Donnell earned that honor on Wednesday for his work in the Week 3 victory at Tampa Bay.

O’Donnell punted seven times against the Buccaneers. Five of them pinned the Bucs inside their 15-yard line. That includes one caught by Keisean Nixon at the 2. The performance  of the O’Donnell-led punt team played a role in Green Bay earning a resounding 144-yard advantage in field position.

“I though Pat O’Donnell was huge today,” coach Matt LaFleur said after the game. On Monday, LaFleur said of O’Donnell and the punt team’s fliers, Nixon and Rudy Ford: “Obviously, Pat had an amazing day punting the football. Just their ability to get down and win their one-on-ones or win a double-team on the outside, I think made a huge difference in our punt unit.”

This is O’Donnell’s first Special Teams Player of the Week award. He joins Craig Hentrich (Week 11, 1994) and Tim Masthay (Week 8, 2010; Week 13, 2011; Week 2, 2012) as the third punter in franchise history to earn the honor.

The five inside-the-20 punts was a career high for O’Donnell, who spent his first eight NFL seasons with the rival Chicago Bears. They were the most by a Packers punter since 1976.

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Through three weeks, he is fifth in the NFL with a 45.2-yard net average and second with nine inside-the-20 punts. Of his 13 punts, only four have been returned. His only touchback was a 72-yard bomb vs. Chicago.

On Thursday, special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia said O’Donnell is in charge of what punt is used in what situation. Does he want to boom one down the field? Park one on the left sideline? Go for an Aussie-style kick near the goal line? That’s all on O’Donnell.

“I think if you look at Pat kind of like a golfer, he’s got a lot of different clubs in his bag,” Bisaccia said last week. “There’s been different punts at different places we’ve been on the field in the two games that we’ve played. That’s kind of what I mean about calling his pitches. If he wants to go left, right, down the middle, hit a big ball, hit a flop, whatever those things are, we work all those situations on the field during the week of practice, on Wednesday and usually on Friday.”

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