Packers, Crosby Steadfast Despite Misses

The Packers are going through a transition period with kicker Mason Crosby. His slow start in training camp is showing that. But there is nothing to fear, says the team and the kicker. Matt Tevsh provides perspective on what is only, after all, Day 3 of camp.

After a few stumbles last season, Mason Crosby knows he will be scrutinized this year with every missed kick. And so it is that just three days into training camp, he has been a topic of conversation.

As Packer Report reported, Crosby was a mediocre 6-of-9 on field goals during the live special teams period at Sunday night's practice, and on Monday, he missed two more kicks, albeit battling some brisk crosswinds.

Crosby, however, made no excuses.

"They shouldn't have happened," he explained Monday after practice, "but we're getting a lot of good work in individually. We have two new holders, one that's never held in a football game, held in any football, so we're working through some things, but I felt good with how I hit the ball (Sunday) night. We had a few issues with the operation, but other than that, we're going to put in the time and we're going to make sure it's perfect. It's the first couple days. Sometimes you've got to work out some kinks, but I think we'll move forward and do well here."

Crosby is adapting to a new holder for the third straight season. In 2008, punter Derrick Frost handled the duties until he was released, when backup quarterback Matt Flynn took over for the final four games. In 2009, Flynn gave way to punter Jeremy Kapinos for the last four games (including the playoffs). And now, because the Packers failed to re-sign Kapinos this past offseason, Chris Bryan and Tim Masthay are getting their shots while also competing for the punting job. It all adds up to a challenging time for Crosby.

"I'm going to be patient," began Crosby, "and I'm fortunate enough that the coaches seem to be patient and I'm just going to keep trying to make kicks. All that repetition, all that time seeing them hold, and as we start trusting and as the process gets smoother and better, I think it's going to be really solid. Having both of them, and in a sense knowing and being able to show them how I want it, we can kind of mold it. There are some growing pains in that."

Though Crosby has lacked results during live drills, he is happy with the work that has been done with his new holders and returning long snapper Brett Goode. Crosby said he went somewhere in the neighborhood of 60-for-60 on Saturday during individual work, so there is no reason for concern just yet. But getting comfortable and being productive with his new triumvirate during game time will be the only thing that ultimately counts.

Crosby said Flynn and Kapinos did well holding last season, yet the results were mediocre, at best. Of all kickers in 2009 with at least 17 attempts, Crosby ranked just 23rd in percentage made (75 percent) and was fourth-worst in the league with nine misses.

We have tons of observations and quick-hitting opinions from Monday's practice in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club Forum.

While Crosby's 27-of-36 performance seems OK, he has yet to make 80 percent of his kicks in a single season. Since he came into the league in 2007, at least 22 kickers each year have hit that mark.

Still, there seems to be a confidence in Crosby's talent over his results. Late last season, Crosby missed a kick in four straight games (which he had never done in two previous pro seasons) but his mettle, at least outwardly, never wavered. General manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy again chose not to bring in a kicker to training camp to compete with Crosby.

"We have an 80-man roster," said McCarthy after Monday's practice. "You evaluate every position. The kicking position is no different. Our priority in our specialists was with the punters, for good reason. We are confident in Mason's ability as we go forward. The two kicks that he missed (on Monday), I'll just address that because I'm sure that's the next question. I look at the operation and so forth. He has to make the kicks and we've got to make sure the operation is correct. That's why we're in training camp."

Crosby has not changed much with his technique but rather is working through a process that started last season. It was aimed to give Crosby more practice time with his holder. Flynn, with his quarterback responsibilities, was only getting limited time to work with Crosby. Now, Crosby is getting almost the entire practice to work with Bryan and Masthay.

During Monday's practice, Crosby worked for more than two hours with his new holders. And while McCarthy would not rule out Flynn for the job, it is clear he would like to stay committed to his plan.

"The ideal, as I stated (Sunday), is for the punter to be the holder," McCarthy said. "It's a relationship that best serves the kicker."

Perhaps that is why McCarthy scoffs at Crosby's slow start this camp.

"I'm not concerned with Mason Crosby," he said.

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Matt Tevsh has covered the Packers since 1996. E-mail him at

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