When Tim Masthay discovered the Green Bay Packers were bringing in California kicker Giorgio Tavecchio to compete for the kicking job next season, the fourth-year punter immediately went back to work.
Although it wasnít Masthayís job on the line, his secondary duty as the teamís holder for field goals called for him to make one slight, but major adjustment.
After all, Tavecchio is left-footed.
This offseason, Masthay is getting used to the switch after holding the past three seasons for right-footed veteran Mason Crosby.
Slowly, but surely, itís coming together.
ďItís difficult, and itís coming along,Ē said Masthay, who's also right-handed and solidified himself as the team's punter after signing a four-year extension before last season.
ďI donít know that Iím game-ready right now, but I think Iím doing a decent job with it. Once I found out we signed Giorgio, when I was back in Kentucky, I started working on it right away. Itís coming along and Iím confident in it.Ē
The competition for Crosby sprouted from a challenging 2012 season for the seventh-year kicker in which he made only 21 of 33 attempts for a league-low 63.6-percent average. He seemed to pull things together, making six straight to end the season, but the damage was done after a midseason 12-of-24 stretch.
Tavecchio, 22, was a career 75-percent kicker during his time at California before going to camp with San Francisco last offseason. He spent the year as a tutor at the California-Berkeley campus while continuing to work out at the schoolís facilities.
With the kicking job on the line come training camp, Masthay wants to ensure both kickers have a fair shot. During last weekís mini-camp practice, things went off without a hitch as Tavecchio made all three of his kicks from 38, 43 and 51 yards.
ďIím trying to work my butt off at it so that is never the case,Ē Masthay said of not wanting his ability to hold for a left-footed kicker to affect Tavecchioís chances
ďThe main thing here is Iíve always held for a right-footed kicker, so itís just learning to do that skill backwards."