Special teams have been problematic for the Packers long before the arrival of Matt LaFleur. He's turning to one of the few people he retained from the previous regime in hopes of turning them around.
The Packers are promoting Maurice Drayton to special teams coordinator, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported. Drayton replaces Shawn Mennenga, who was dismissed Wednesday.
For Drayton, it's a hard-earned promotion following stints with the Colts, FCS program The Citadel, the Arena Football League's developmental league AF2, the CFL and Finland's Seinajoki Crocodiles. He arrived in Green Bay three years ago, working under Ron Zook.
The Packers have ranked at or near the bottom in special teams for the better part of the last decade. They were 29th in 2020, 26th in 2019 and 32nd in 2018, per longtime NFL scribe Rick Gosselin's annual rankings.
While Mason Crosby connected on all 16 of his field-goal attempts this past season, issues arose elsewhere. Green Bay allowed two punt returns for touchdowns, had a punt blocked and lost fumbles on kickoff and punt returns. Despite special teams lingering as a sore spot, the Packers have gone 13-3 and reached the NFC title game in each of the past two years.
An upgrade could help get them over the NFC hump.
Here's other news Around The NFL is monitoring on Thursday:
- The Houston Texans are expected to bring in Pep Hamilton as quarterbacks coach, Pelissero reported, via an informed source. Hamilton was among the short list of candidates being considered by the Dolphins for offensive coordinator.
- The Detroit Lions are expected to hire former Pro Bowl quarterback Mark Brunell for their QBs coach vacancy, Pelissero reported, per an informed source. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported earlier in the day that Brunell was set to be interviewed. Brunell, currently a radio host in Jacksonville, went 10-11 as a high school head coach for two years (2013-14) at Episcopal School of Jacksonville.
- The Minnesota Vikings are promoting Ryan Ficken to special teams coordinator, Pelissero reported. Ficken has been an assistant coach for 14 seasons in Minnesota, working with multiple positions under three head coaches.
- The Chicago Bears announced they have hired Chris Rumph as their defensive line coach.
- Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, offensive tackle Mike Remmers and guard Andrew Wylie were full participants in Thursday's practice after being limited the day before.
- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers listed the following players on the injury report: receiver Antonio Brown (knee), linebackers Lavonte David (hamstring) and Jason Pierre-Paul (knee), and safeties Jordan Whitehead (shoulder/knee) and Antoine Winfield Jr. (ankle) did not practice again. Also, WR Mike Evans (knee) and nose tackle Vita Vea (ankle) remained limited.
- Indianapolis Colts assistant Tom Rathman announced his retirement Thursday. The former 49ers fullback has been coaching for 23 of the past 24 seasons, including the last three as Indianapolis' running backs coach.
- Los Angeles Rams assistant offensive line coach Andy Dickerson is joining the Seattle Seahawks and new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron as run game coordinator, NFL Network's Mike Silver reported. Dickerson spent the last nine seasons with the Rams, four of which came alongside Waldron who was L.A.'s passing game coordinator.