- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 8, 2009

Washington Redskins punter Hunter Smith, who pulled a groin muscle during his first attempt Sunday against Tampa Bay, doesn’t expect to know whether he’ll be able to punt this week until Friday or Saturday.

While Smith’s groin was feeling a little better, he didn’t practice Wednesday and isn’t slated to Thursday, either.

“It felt pretty bad during the game,” said Smith, who never missed a game during his decade with Indianapolis. “It takes two days for an injury to stop being injured and start healing. I have a strained muscle. We’ll see if it comes back in time, and we’re doing everything we can to get back on the field. If we linger on [until Sunday], we’ll probably be down for the week.”

Smith, 32, missed Colts preseason games with a similar injury. He’ll hold for kicker Shaun Suisham against Carolina on Sunday even if he can’t punt.

Coach Jim Zorn said he wants to be careful not to let Smith push himself only to aggravate the injury.

“It’s not drastically pulled, but when you have to violently kick, I want to make sure that thing is strong because I don’t want this to keep reoccurring,” Zorn said.

The only man at Redskin Park who’s glad that Smith might not punt Sunday is Glenn Pakulak, the punter who was signed to the practice squad Tuesday.

Since finishing third in the nation with a 45.6-yard average as a senior at Kentucky in 2003, the 29-year-old had spent time with Seattle, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Tennessee, Chicago and Oakland before debuting last year with New Orleans. He averaged 47.7 gross yards and 37.8 net in eight games but knew he was in trouble in April when the Saints traded up to choose SMU punter Thomas Morstead in the draft’s fifth round.

“You wait six years for an opportunity, you average 48 for half a season… [but] anytime a specialist is drafted, you know it’s going to be tough,” Pakulak said. “[I’ve got] a big strong left-footed leg and a lot of resiliency waiting to get that shot to prove to people I can do this. I thought I did that last year. I’ve been making my rounds [trying to] find a home one of these days.”

Pakulak has been popular since his half-season with the Saints, which followed stints as a construction worker, waiter and bartender on Bourbon Street. He worked out for Tennessee, Minnesota and Baltimore last month.

“A team [saw] me punting good in games, and it’s, ‘Hey, get him in here,’ ” Pakulak said. “I’ve been punting that way [all along]. My competitive nature hasn’t given me a chance to give up on it quite yet. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t quite as competitive, but it’s kept me going and I’m here today, so I guess that’s good. When you know you’re capable of doing something, it’s hard to walk away from it.”

Two more weeks

Defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery has yet to play this season after being the top backup last year and a starter in 2007. Montgomery expects to miss another two weeks with roughness in his right knee. He had his left knee scoped during the offseason.

Montgomery said the right knee started hurting when a blocker rolled up the back of his left leg during a training camp practice, and it hasn’t really improved.

“Every time I think it’s feeling a little better and I go out there, I set myself back,” said Montgomery, who was inactive for the opener even though he wasn’t on the injury list.

Montgomery, who will be a free agent this winter, said he’s not worried that the Redskins will get tired of waiting for the knee to heal and put him on season-ending injured reserve. Fellow defensive lineman Renaldo Wynn also has been inactive each game even though he’s healthy.

Starting defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin, who injured his left elbow against Tampa Bay, was listed as limited Wednesday but is expected to start at Carolina.

Panthers linebacker Na’il Diggs, who missed the Dallas game Sept. 27 with a rib injury, and safety Chris Harris, out all year with a sore knee, also were limited in practice Wednesday.

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