Grading the Packers: Specialists

Crosby, Ryan, Davis consistent throughout season for Packers

The Green Bay Packers were in good hands in 2007 behind kicker Mason Crosby, punter Jon Ryan and long snapper Rob Davis. The trio of specialists were about as consistent as they come, and never let the team down.

If the 39-year-old Davis returns for the 2008 season, the Packers again will have the same trio of specialists because Crosby and Ryan proved that they can handle the often poor weather conditions in Green Bay late in the season and into January.

Here are individual assessments of each of the Packers' specialists:

Mason Crosby: The rookie beat out Dave Rayner in a heated kicking battle during training camp, then went on to claim the National Football League scoring title with 141 points, also a Packers record for points in a season by a rookie. Crosby was named NFC Special Teams player of the month in November. In his pro debut Sept. 9 against Philadelphia, he made a 42-yard field goal with 2 seconds remaining in the game to lift the Packers to a win.

Crosby made 31 of 39 field goals (79.5%) and had 14 touchbacks on 141 kickoffs, third in the NFC and sixth in the NFL.

Crosby became the seventh rookie in NFL history to lead the league in scoring and first since Kevin Butler in 1985. Crosby also surpassed Ryan Longwell's franchise record of points in a season by a kicker (131, 2000) and placed third behind Paul Hornung (176, 1960; 146, 1961) on the team's single-season scoring list. Crosby jointed Chester Marcol (1972), Chris Jacke (1989) and Longwell (1997) as the only kickers in Packers history to score more than 100 points as a rookie.
Grade: A-

Jon Ryan: The punter switched to a two-step approach instead of a three-step technique and it paid dividends. Take away a nightmarish game on a blustery day in Chicago in December, and Ryan had a much improved season over 2006.

Ryan was ninth in the NFL with a gross average of 44.4 yards and tied for 11th in net average (37.6 yards). In 2006, Ryan was 26th in the league in net average (35.7 yards). Only 32 percent of Ryan's punts were returned in 2007 compared to 2006 when he often out-kicked the coverage, and 65 percent of his punts were returned.

Ryan placed 18 punts inside the 20 in 2007 compared to 17 in 2006.
Grade: B

Rob Davis: The veteran long snapper finished his 11th season with the Packers, and probably will be re-signed for 2008. He also served as the team's NFLPA union representative and assisted Tim Terry, the Packers' director of player development.

Aside from the blustery day in Chicago on Dec. 23, Davis continues to put his snaps on the mark with an above average velocity. There still are not many long snappers in the league better than Davis, despite his age.
Grade: B

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