Insider: Thumbs up to Crosby, down to Ripkowski

Robert Zizzo
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Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby kicks the ball during Packers Family Night at Lambeau Field.

Thumbs up

What a difference two years can make.

On Family Night in 2013, kicker Mason Crosby was near the bottom of his career. He was coming off a season in which he connected on a career-low 64 percent of his field goal attempts. Trying to fend off training camp contender Giorgio Tavecchio, Crosby missed 5-of-8 field goal attempts.

On Saturday night in a live-kicking session that ended the event, Crosby easily connected on all eight of his attempts.

Rotating from the right hashmark to the left hashmark, he made attempts from 33, 36, 40, 43, 45, 46, 50 and 51 yards.

“I just feel good with how I’m taking care of my week-to-week work, my day-to-day stuff,” Crosby said. “Obviously, it was good to get out there tonight and get on Lambeau Field and hit some good kicks.

“Obviously, building something here pretty special, and wanted to just continue that process. I just kind of want to keep climbing as we go forward, and keep hitting the ball the way I am coming into the end of camp here.”

The raucous Family Night crowd was egged on to provide game-level noise. They didn’t disappoint.

“I didn’t even think about it, and then as they got them pumped up, it was fun as that crowd just kind of gets juiced up,” he said. “You just lock in a little bit more and really kind of ... Family Night is a little tough because it’s a practice, but you’re in the stadium, you have the crowd. So it’s good to get those juices flowing and kind of feel a little bit of a game atmosphere and go out and perform.”

Green Bay Packers center Corey Linsley (63) and fullback Aaron Ripkowski (22) ride bikes to Packers training camp practice at Ray Nitschke Field on Thursday.

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If sixth-round draft pick Aaron Ripkowski is going to make the 53-man roster, it’s because he will have demonstrated that he can be a high-level blocker, especially in short-yardage situations.

During Saturday’s practice, the 6-foot-1, 246-pound fullback took a step backward.

Backward as in being pushed back into the quarterback by linebacker Joe Thomas while pass blocking. Backward as in getting stuffed by linebacker Julius Peppers 3 yards behind the line of scrimmage on a run play.

He also found nobody to block as the lead blocker on two other unsuccessful running plays.

Veteran fullback John Kuhn might not be a prototypical lead blocker, but he can be counted on to make plays when called upon.

Did you notice?

■ Undrafted rookie cornerback LaDarius Gunter was with the first-team kickoff coverage unit for the first time this camp. He replaced Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Also, Carl Bradford returned to the first-team unit, filling in for Jayrone Elliott, who did not participate in the practice.

■ New to the first-team kickoff return unit were Alonzo Harris, Justin Perillo, Josh Boyd and Aaron Ripkowski. They replaced John Kuhn, Datone Jones, Mitchell Henry and Elliott.

■ Rookie wide receiver Javess Blue was injured after dropping a pass along the sideline and colliding with a team employee Kandi Goltz. Blue was taken to the locker room and didn’t return.

■ The entire first-team offense did a simultaneous Lambeau Leap after Davante Adams caught a touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to close the pass-under-pressure drill.

■ Attendance for Family Night was 67,191.

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