Crosby kicking well in company of new specialists

Michael Cohen
Packers News
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GREEN BAY - Mason Crosby’s eighth and final field goal attempt sailed through the uprights with an unusual ball flight Tuesday. The 48-yard kick came out low off Crosby’s foot and took a line-drive trajectory into the net. It wasn’t pretty, but the end result would have been three points for the Green Bay Packers.

Jim Matthews/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby missed four kicks during the regular season, but two of them were largely beyond his control.
Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby (2) kicks the winning field goal as punter Jacob Schum (10) holds against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field Sunday, December 18, 2016.

“The last one I was a little disappointed, I just kind of hit it a little low,” Crosby said. “Other than that, I feel really good. It’s nice when they all go in and you can just be picky about the little details.”

Crosby can afford to be picky thanks to an impressive start to training camp. He has made 14 of his 15 field-goal attempts through the first five practices and made solid contact on almost every kick. Based on appearance, you’d never know he’s dealing with a new long snapper in Derek Hart and new holder in punter Justin Vogel.

“You know the more reps we get the better it looks every day,” Crosby said. “Just working on timing, trust and making sure that everything is on time and smooth each time we have an opportunity. The live reps are good. It’s good to get in there and have the pressure of the rush and just kind of get back into the flow of things. We didn’t take any live reps with the team in OTAs, so that’s always a work in progress.”

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In truth, Crosby’s last 20 months have been more about adjustments than anything else. Beginning on Dec. 20, 2015, when the Packers visited the Oakland Raiders, there has been significant turnover at the other two specialist positions following six years of stability.

  • Dec. 20, 2015 — Long snapper Brett Goode tears his ACL against the Raiders
  • Dec. 22, 2015 — Packers sign long snapper Rick Lovato off the street
  • Aug. 9, 2016 — Packers sign long snapper Jesse Schmitt to compete with Lovato
  • Aug. 14, 2016 — Packers place Schmitt on injured reserve and waive him a week later
  • Aug. 30, 2016 — Packers release punter/holder Tim Masthay and claim punter/holder Jacob Schum off waivers
  • Sept. 5, 2016 — Packers re-sign Goode, whose rehab from a torn ACL is complete
  • Jan. 27, 2017 — Packers sign long snapper Taybor Pepper with Goode set to become an unrestricted free agent in March
  • March 31, 2017 — Packers sign long snapper Derek Hart to compete with Pepper. Goode's contract has already expired
  • May 5, 2017 — Packers sign punter/holder Justin Vogel to compete with Schum
  • June 1, 2017 — Packers release Schum

"You've got to give Mason a lot of credit," coach Mike McCarthy said. "That's a challenge, there's no doubt about it. He's got a lot of patience, a lot of professionalism working with those guys. I think he definitely has the right combination of demeanor and experience to work through that, but it's definitely a challenge."

The trio of Goode, Masthay and Crosby remained intact from 2010-15. The current trio of Hart, Vogel and Crosby has worked together since May.

“Brett (Goode) was always a staple,” Crosby said. “Early on I switched holders my first few years. I felt like I had a new guy all the time. But obviously having Brett and Tim (Matsthay) for six years there, that was awesome. I don’t think there’s many other guys that had that tenure with their snapper and holder for that long. Just the comfort level there, the trust, the trust in the people that you know they’re going to do their job. But we’re all pros. These guys have a job to do and they’re working hard to make sure that everything is right every time, and we’re just fine-tuning the details every time we get a chance.”

In that regard the forthcoming exhibition games take on additional importance. Now in his 11th season, Crosby is well beyond the point of needing additional kicks. But with two new specialists around him — both of whom are rookies — the Packers might be grateful for an extra drive or two that stall near the red zone.

“It’d just be good to have opportunities,” Crosby said. “It’s always good to have those in-game chances. I’m sure Family Night we’ll have plenty of chances out there, which is always fun. I think the more work we can get as a unit, the line looks good and they’re doing their thing. It’s more getting our timing and making sure every snap, every hold, we’re in sync and that I’m trusting and swinging free. That’s the biggest thing.”


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