Crosby ready for new challenge on PATs
MILWAUKEE – Mason Crosby had a feeling this day was coming for NFL kickers.
The writing was on the wall last summer when the league pushed back extra-point attempts to the 15-yard line for the first two preseason games on a trial basis in an effort to increase the difficulty of what's become an automatic conversion when kicking from the 2.
So it came as no surprise to the Green Bay Packers' ninth-year kicker when NFL owners voted Tuesday to expand the trial run to the entire 2015 season. Next season, all of Crosby's extra points will come about 33 yards away from the uprights, and he's ready for the challenge.
"We've done the test run and they were pretty open with the fact it was going to happen, something was going to be done," said Crosby, who also was promoting next month's Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation Golf Classic at North Hills Country Club on Tuesday.
"Going back to the extra point at the 33, for me it's just adding another little challenge to kicking here in Green Bay, (especially) late in the year. It's not anything I really question or look at as good or bad — it's just kind of a change. It's something that I'm not going to change my prep or change anything I do for a 33-yard field goal in essence. I kick those all the time."
Crosby has made all 12 of the field goals he's attempted from 33 yards in his career with the exception of a blocked attempt in 2008, but understood why the league determined it needed to make a change.
He's missed only four of the 405 extra points he's attempted in his eight NFL seasons, a 99 percent conversion rate that's on par with the rest of the NFL. Two of those misses came last season in the form of blocks.
The play was just too easy, a sentiment Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy echoed at the NFL owners meetings in March. He was among the 30 voters who supported pushing the extra point back, leaving two-point conversions at the 2 and allowing defensive players to return a turnover or blocked kick for two points.
Crosby, 30, believes it could have more impact on offensive linemen who have to run back to the 15-yard line after a long drive and coaches' decision-making than it will kickers, who still made 90 percent of kicks between 30 and 39 yards last season.
"Coaching strategies might change because of it," Crosby said. "It will be interesting to see what coaches decide to do two points. That whole chart they always use may have some adjustments on it on when to go for it."
The owners approved the change for next season and will reassess afterward. Crosby estimates you'll probably see conversions dip about 3 or 4 percent. If the conversion rates still are too high, he wouldn't be surprised if you see it get pushed back even more.
"We're competitors, too. All of us kickers," Crosby said. "So it's kind of another challenge and I'll take it as an opportunity to even make ourselves be better and race to that. We'll see what happens. This is only a one-year trial. So they'll decide and maybe they'll decide to move us back even further if we end up making too many of them."