After his performance Saturday night at the Family Night scrimmage, Packers street free agent Giorgio Tavecchio might get his boss to call him by the correct name.
Earlier in the week Packers coach Mike McCarthy misspoke and referred to Tavecchio as “Sergio.”
The easy-going, 23-year-old University of California product who was born in Milan, Italy, doesn’t seem to mind.
“I don’t take myself that seriously,” said Tavecchio. “I’ve gotten Gregorio, Giacomo, Giovanni, so it’s all (good). Sergio’s a nice name so I don’t mind it.”
Tavecchio converted 6 of 7 field goals at Lambeau Field during Family Night and has made 16 of 19 during the competitive periods of training camp. If he keeps it up, McCarthy might be calling Tavecchio his starting place-kicker before long.
Incumbent seven-year veteran Mason Crosby struggled mightily on Saturday. He missed five of his eight field goal attempts, including from short range at 33 and 37 yards. Crosby has made just 12 of 19 field goal attempts during training camp.
Is Tavecchio thinking he can win the job?
“I think it’s on the back burner, but again, as I’ve said, I just take it one day at a time, just give it my best every moment,” said Tavecchio. “It would be unfair to everybody in this locker room if I started thinking ahead and looked over my preparation on a day to day basis.”
The knock on Tavecchio is that his range is limited. He booted a 53-yard field goal at Family Night, although the ball caromed off the crossbar.
“I heard it,” said Tavecchio. “I kick and usually like to not follow the ball too much and care about where it’s going. I like to hit it and just let go.
“I heard it and I kind of like, ‘oh (expletive), 53, come on, I’ve got more than that,’ so I was a little bit frustrated with myself at the end there.”
Tavecchio’s longest career field goal at California was 54 yards. Whether he could kick long field goals in cold weather later in the season remains to be seen.
Tavecchio talked about how he handles the pressure of kicking in front of a packed stadium.
“Deep breathing, peace, patience,” he said. I’m a very spiritual person so I just try to feel like I’m finding God in the moment, giving him my best, and just me and him out there although there’s 80,000 other souls as well . Constant reminder to be at peace, to have patience and just be smooth because if you’re smooth good things happen.”
Tavecchio is looking to build on his solid early start to training camp.
“I’m going to take a good look at myself, and do some self reflection, see what I liked from today, see things I want to work on and just keep building, keep building and keep improving,” he said.
Although he is battling to take away Crosby’s job, their relationship is solid.
“Yes, he’s a very good man,” Tavecchio said of Crosby. “I respect him a lot. He’s a good family man, he just had his second daughter a couple months ago. Just a calm kind of tranquil person. And me coming up here in the spring, I realized that they had a good group, they had kind of a solid corps of guys, their snapper, holder and Mason. I didn’t want to ruffle anybody’s feathers, I wanted to come in, bring my best personality to the locker room, but just not be overbearing because I can ask a lot of questions, and be really excited.
“I realized coming in I wanted to just take it easy, get to know them first. They’ve been very warm, very friendly. I’m very thankful for that because I’m a people person, and if someone kind of (shuns) you, that’s the worst thing you can do to me. You can make fun of me, you can call me whatever you want, that’s’ fine. That means I’m a part of the group. When I’m off on my own it’s not as fun.”
Tavecchio said he has room for improvement.
“I have to look at the film,” he said. “The results will tell you a certain story but I wasn’t as super pleased with how I hit the ball. But hey, the ball goes in sometimes and sometimes you hit good balls and they don’t go in, which is what I think happened to Mason (Saturday).”
Tavecchio tries to stay mentally focused, but he also couldn’t’ help watching Crosby kick during the scrimmage. “I was aware of what was going on,” Tavecchio said.
Tavecchio, who was signed by the Packers on March 26, said it was a thrill to kick in front of a large crowd at Lambeau for the first time.
“It was an absolute blessing," he said. "Not many people can say they practiced in front of 80,000 people, screaming cheering fans. It’s really true what they say about Lambeau and the Green Bay Packers. They are part of the fabric of this state, of this country, of this league.”