Among the pleasant surprises for the Seattle Seahawks this summer has been the punting of rookie Ryan Plackemeier and NFL Europe standout Gabe Lindstrom.
Seahawks coaches were so impressed, in fact, that they opted to release veteran Tom Rouen on Monday and let the two youngsters battle it out at training camp.
Rouen, who turned 38 on June 9, played in 12 games with the Seahawks last season after the team released veteran Leo Araguz. Rouen ranked 24th in the NFL in gross average (41.6) and 14th out of 15 NFC punters in net average (35.0).
By keeping Plackemeier, a seventh-round pick, and Lindstrom, the Seahawks have apparently learned from past lessons. Seattle favored veterans over young punters in each of the past two seasons, yet Donnie Jones (with Miami) and Chris Kluwe (with Minnesota) went on to have success with other teams.
Special-teams coach Bob Casullo said earlier this month that the team was more likely to stick with a younger punter this time around.
“These guys here, not only are they good athletes and good punters, but they also hold (for field goals), which is a key thing,” Casullo said. “That’s a key addition to the package.”
Casullo has been impressed by the big legs of Plackemeier and Lindstrom, each of whom also responded when coaches pushed them to get their kicks off more quickly.
“They have to learn how to become skilled punters,” Casullo said earlier this month. “That’s our job to work on between now and the opening game.”