Unflappable

Mason Crosby won the most competitive kicking battle in Green Bay Packers training camp history by edging Dave Rayner. While Crosby's strong leg helps, PackerReport.com's Todd Korth says that Crosby has a bigger asset that will help him prevail for many seasons in the NFL.

There wasn't a lot that separated Mason Crosby from Dave Rayner during the Green Bay Packers' training camp. Both are gifted kickers with amazing leg strength and accuracy. They both made about the same number of kicks for various distances, though, Crosby made a few more than Rayner. Both showed that they can consistently boot the ball into the end zone on kickoffs.

So why did the Packers choose to keep a rookie over a kicker who had already paid his dues the past two seasons in the National Football League? Here's why: Crosby may be a rookie, but he has all composure of a kicker that has excelled in the league for a number of seasons.

Sure, Crosby was selected by Green Bay in the sixth round of the recent NFL draft. But that didn't guarantee him a roster spot. His ability to edge Rayner in the most heated kicking competition in Green Bay Packers training camp history throughout different circumstances was impressive. The rookie hung in there with Rayner during a Family Night scrimmage in which the team intentionally produced as much noise as possible during the kicking period. While Crosby and Rayner were kicking, the PA announcer encouraged fans to scream as loud as possible. Music throughout Lambeau Field was cranked. Crosby didn't flinch.

"That's how my mindset usually is," Crosby said. "I take every kick, every opportunity … I just have to take every chance I have and stay focused, stay calm. I still look to improve and get better, and I'll work on those details throughout the season."

At the end of an evening training camp practice, Coach Mike McCarthy allowed players to squirt water on both kickers and stand as close as possible to them as they kicked. It was more fun than anything, and got a little carried away until McCarthy put the brakes on it, but Crosby still remained focused.

Crosby established 31 game, season and career records at the University of Colorado, where it gets quiet snowy and windy, at times, during the fall. All that proves is he has been consistent at putting the ball through the uprights, and there is no reason to think that he will not continue to be successful at the pro level. He certainly has the leg strength parallel to Brett Favre's right arm, and he proved in training camp that his mental toughness is just as impressive.

"We feel his positives, he's got an extremely strong leg, we think he's a tough-minded kid, he's kicked in bad weather before," said Packers general manager Ted Thompson. "This is not a bad reflection on Dave Rayner. Everybody saw it. It was a remarkable competition."

Crosby was raised in a small Texas town named Georgetown. Though his hometown is small, he endured the pressures of kicking in the big-time arena of high school football in the Lone Star State. He carried that experience with him to Colorado and now Green Bay.

To see Crosby unravel and be inconsistent during the regular season doesn't seem possible. Maybe that's why it's no coincidence that his favorite song to get fired up to before each game "Headstrong" by Trapped.

He has proved himself time and time again since high school. So it will be no surprise that his attitude and composure will again carry him through at the professional level.

"I was able to compete already, and I think I'm going to be really prepared for the season," Crosby said. "I'm looking forward to getting ready this week for Philadelphia. I'm excited about that to start an NFL season."

Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com.


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