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Green Bay Packers 2010 season preview: K Mason Crosby can make history

Sep. 7, 2010
 
Packers kicker Mason Crosby seems likely to reach 500 career points in this, his fourth season, a pace that would put him among the NFL's best kickers of all time.
Packers kicker Mason Crosby seems likely to reach 500 career points in this, his fourth season, a pace that would put him among the NFL's best kickers of all time.

Scoring the record

Players who needed fewer than 70 games to score the first 500 points of their career.

G Player Years

60 Paul Hornung 1957-61

60 Gino Cappelletti 1960-64

61 Jan Stenerud 1967-71

63 Doak Walker 1950-55

63 Stephen Gostkowski 2006-2009

64 Chip Lohmiller 1988-91

64 Mike Vanderjagt 1998-2002

66 Jason Elam 1993-97

66 Ryan Longwell 1997-2001

66 Robbie Gould 2005-2009

67 Nate Kaeding 2004-2008

68 Olindo Mare 1997-2001

69 Lou Groza 1950-55

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This season, Mason Crosby likely will become one of the fastest in NFL history to amass 500 career points.

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Had he demonstrated greater accuracy in his first three years in the league, the Green Bay Packers kicker would have been a good bet to move ahead of the Hall of Famer who achieved that total the quickest nearly a half-century ago.

Crosby has been busy since entering the pro ranks as a sixth-round draft choice in 2007. His 397 points rank second to the Patriots’ Stephen Gostkowski’s 410 over the last three years. His 85 field goals trail only the 91 of Tennessee’s Rob Bironas and the 89 of Philadelphia’s David Akers.

As a rookie, Crosby led the NFL in scoring with 141 points. In 2008, his 127 points were tied for seventh best and last year he was the fourth-leading scorer with 129 points.

He and Akers have been asked to split the uprights more often (109 attempts) than any other kickers since 2007. He, Akers and Bironas are the only players to have attempted at least 30 field goals in each of the last three seasons.

Such a workload can be expected when playing for a high-scoring team like the Packers. Only New England (1,426 points) and New Orleans (1,352) have tallied more points than Green Bay (1,315) during Crosby’s tenure.

What Crosby hasn’t been is particularly accurate. His career field-goal mark of 78 percent is nearly five points lower than the league average (82.9 percent) over the same span. As a rookie, he ranked 24th among kickers in field-goal accuracy and has remained in that neighborhood since: 26th in 2008 and 25th in 2009.

Crosby’s struggles last year were well documented. He missed at least one field-goal attempt from inside 45 yards in four consecutive games to become the first Packer to do so since Chester Marcol in 1972.

Even so, Crosby has scored more points in his first three seasons than any player in NFL history. If he hopes to add the best four-year start to his resume, he’s going to have to surpass 500 points, and the sooner the better.

That milestone, 500 points, has added significance in Packerland. Don Hutson was the first to achieve it, doing so during his record-setting 1942 campaign. Nineteen years later, Paul Hornung got there faster (60 games) than anyone. Gino Cappelletti of the AFL’s Boston Patriots duplicated Hornung’s feat in 1964.

Barring injury, Crosby will join their ranks sometime in December. Should he do so earlier, he’ll replace Hornung and Cappelletti atop that list.

Crosby has averaged 8.27 points per game in 48 regular-season appearances. At that rate, he’ll need 13 games this season (61 overall) to hit 500, putting him in Detroit on Dec. 12 for his big day.

But he’d be much farther ahead if his field-goal success rate had merely mirrored that of the league average. Were that true, he’d have another five field goals to his name, his scoring average would be 8.58 points per game and he’d likely cash in two weeks earlier in Atlanta, getting the record in his 59th contest.

Crosby is ninth on the Packers’ list of all-time scorers, but labeling him an elite kicker would be a stretch. Until his accuracy improves, the native of Texas will have to take satisfaction in being one of the most utilized.

Eric Goska is a Press-Gazette correspondent, a Packers historian and the author of “Green Bay Packers: A Measure of Greatness,” a statistical history of the Packers. E-mail him at aegoska@sbcglobal.net.

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