Green Bay Packers: Mason Crosby

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers have a new playmaker in Micah Hyde.

Steady as he goes for the first year and a half of his NFL career, the second-year pro has come up big each of the last two games.

[+] EnlargeMicah Hyde
Benny Sieu/USA TODAY SportsMicah Hyde returned a first-quarter punt for a touchdown that helped the Packers blow the game open against the Eagles.
A week after his first professional interception, the safety returned a punt 75-yards for a touchdown in the first quarter Sunday that helped blow open the Packers' 53-20 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles at Lambeau Field.

Hyde has split punt-return duties with receiver Randall Cobb, who fair caught the first one Sunday. Hyde's turn came on the Eagles' second series. On a ball that some returners might have fair caught, Hyde split a pair of Eagles' cover men -– cornerback Nolan Carroll II and receiver Josh Huff -- made one cut to his right and then outran punter Donnie Jones to the end zone.

No one would have blamed Hyde for fair catching it because while Davon House had Carroll blocked, no one had Huff.

"In the locker room at halftime, House said, 'I knew you weren't going to fair catch it,'" Hyde said. "I have trust in him and whoever the other jammer is and the guys up front to block and get their guys."

It was the Packers' first punt return for a touchdown in more than a year. Their last was Hyde's 93-yarder against the Vikings last year on Oct. 27.

"To be honest with you, going back to the Tuesday game plan meetings, we just felt Micah, his particular style versus their unit and what we had called is really what we talked about all week," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Sunday. "He did a great job of catching and getting north and south and finishing it. Great return. I haven't seen the video of it so I can't comment on the particulars of the blocking, but Micah's straight-ahead style we felt was a good way to go today."

Not bad for a guy who was knocked coming out of college for his lack of speed.

"I'm just a slow guy from Iowa," Hyde said after the game.

However, it was not an all-around stellar day on special teams. Tim Masthay had a punt blocked for the second time this season. Mason Crosby had an extra point blocked and missed a 50-yard field goal (his first miss that wasn't blocked this season) and on another extra point, a problem with the hold prevented Crosby from even attempting it.

"Some weird stuff happened on special teams," Crosby said. "But the defense played great, the offense played great and we did some things on special teams well with that return and our coverage teams played well on kickoff."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy wasn't necessarily accusing the New York Jets of any funny business, but he expressed surprise that they were not surprised by his surprise onside kick in Sunday's game.

McCarthy made the call to try the onside kick with 3:12 left in the second quarter after a field goal cut the Jets' lead to 21-9. Mason Crosby popped the ball up, but the Jets were ready for it and easily recovered.

"I felt like they were in our huddle, frankly," McCarthy said Monday. "Just the way they lined up to it is disturbing to me. It's something we've never shown. It's a formation we've never been in."

Special teams coach Shawn Slocum said Crosby hit the kick exactly how he was instructed, which should have given the Packers a better chance to recover it.

It was a bold move at the time, but it did not cost the Packers anything because cornerback Tramon Williams picked off Jets quarterback Geno Smith on the ensuing possession.

"I kind of pushed the envelope there," McCarthy said. "I was trying to steal a series back, frankly, that we lost at the beginning of the game, and the fact that they had the ball coming out in the second half. Like a lot of times when you make those kind of decisions, a lot of those variables are looked at before the game, so you're able to react to it. The timing of it, I thought the risk was definitely worth it."

Packers Camp Report: Day 21

August, 27, 2014
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Green Bay Packers training camp:
  • For the final practice of camp on Wednesday, the Packers went through their new day-before-the-game practice in helmets and shorts. It lasted 61 minutes. That brought their total time on the practice field for training camp to 35 hours and 30 minutes dating to the first practice on July 26. When told of that number, one former Packers' player from the 1980s said: "We used to practice that much the first week [of camp]." The longest practice of the summer was their fourth one of camp on July 30. It lasted two hours and 36 minutes. The only other practice lasted more than two-and-half hours. It was a two hour-and-31-minute session in July 30. They went longer than two hours and 15 minutes only twice after Aug. 1. The shortest practice of camp was a 58-minute session on Aug. 21, the day before the preseason home opener against the Raiders.
  • As has been their custom following the final practice of training camp, the players thanked the fans for attending practice by going over to the stands and shaking hands with them.
  • Despite not having another kicker to compete with, Mason Crosby got almost the exact same number of training camp field goals as he did last year, when the Packers had two other kickers in camp. Crosby finished camp by making all three of his field goals (33, 38 and 43 yards) in Wednesday's practice to finish camp 53 of 63 (84.1 percent). Last summer, he was 53 of 67 (79.1 percent) in practice.
  • After reducing their roster to 75 on Tuesday by putting six players on injured reserve, there were only four players who did not practice on Wednesday. They were: cornerback Demetri Goodson (concussion), linebacker Brad Jones (quadriceps), center JC Tretter (knee) and tight end Brandon Bostick (leg). None is expected to play in Thursday's preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs.
  • Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and several other veteran starters also are not expected to play. Rodgers took mostly scout-team reps in practice this week.
  • Thursday's game against the Chiefs at Lambeau Field kicks off at 6 p.m. local time.

Packers Camp Report: Day 18

August, 21, 2014
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Green Bay Packers training camp:
  • Fans and reporters got their first look at what coach Mike McCarthy's new day-before-a-game practice looks like under his revamped weekly schedule. The session lasted just 58 minutes and featured 54 plays from scrimmage during designated 11-on-11 team periods. It also included a special teams period and individual drills. The entire practice was conducted without pads or shells -- just helmets, jerseys and shorts. McCarthy plans to continue this practice all season. It's the first time in his nine years as head coach that the Packers have practiced the day before a game. In the past, the final session wrapped up about 48 hours before kickoff. The six periods in the practice were: stretching, ball drills, last eight plays of the game, no-huddle, game situations and a 30-minute team period that was cut short with 8:32 still left on the clock.
  • During the game-situations period, a scenario had the Packers trailing 26-24 with 22 seconds left on third-and-7 at the defense's 35-yard line. After Aaron Rodgers threw an incomplete pass, Mason Crosby came on for a 53-yard field goal that he missed wide left. In all, Crosby was just 2-of-4 in the period. His other miss was from 38 yards wide left. He was good from 33 and 43 yards. After starting camp by making 28 of his first 30 kicks (93.3 percent), Crosby has made 17 of his past 22 (77.3 percent) in practice, giving him a camp-long mark of 45-for-52 (86.5 percent). He also has made all three of his field goals in preseason games.
  • Neither McCarthy nor the players were available to the media after practice, so there were no injury updates. However, cornerback Casey Hayward did not participate for the second straight session. After sitting out Tuesday's practice, a day off on Wednesday apparently was not enough to get him back on the field. All McCarthy has said about Hayward is that the team was being smart with him, given his past injury history. Hayward missed all but three games last season because of recurring hamstring problems.
  • Others who did not practice and appear unlikely to play on Friday against the Oakland Raiders were: running back Rajion Neal (knee), center Jordan McCray (shoulder), linebacker Joe Thomas (knee), guard/tackle Don Barclay (knee), receiver Jared Abbrederis (knee), tight end Brandon Bostick (lower leg) and defensive tackle Letroy Guion (hamstring).
  • Rookie tight end Colt Lyerla, who was placed on injured reserve on Wednesday, had his salary officially reduced to $303,000, according to ESPN Stats & Information salary data. Had Lyela made the team, his salary would have been $420,000, but he had what was called a split salary in his contract that calls for his pay to be reduced in the event he landed on injured reserve. That is common among undrafted rookie contracts.
  • After Friday's game against the Raiders (7 p.m. local time at Lambeau Field), there will be only be only two more training camp practices open to the public. They are Monday (11:45 a.m.) and Wednesday (10:15 a.m.)

Packers Camp Report: Day 17

August, 19, 2014
Aug 19
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Green Bay Packers training camp:
  • Most people think the Packers signed Julius Peppers to rush the quarterback, and they did. But don't underestimate his worth to the run defense. That was on display during Tuesday's full-pads practice during the half-line running drill. Peppers tossed aside fullback Ina Liaina like a ragdoll and almost immediately was in the backfield, where he hogtied running back Michael Hill for a loss. On the next snap, he beat tackle John Fullington to force the ball carrier to turn inside and into traffic. Peppers also had a tackle for loss in Saturday’s preseason game against the Rams.
  • In a sign that undrafted rookie outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott has moved up the depth chart after his three-sack performance against the Rams, he was on the No. 1 punt team in practice on Tuesday. He lined up at right tackle, a spot that had been occupied by tight end Brandon Bostick before his injury. That’s the first time Elliott has appeared on a top special teams unit. Elliott also was working outside with the regular defense during the early portion of practice. In the past, he had been relegated to scout-team work inside the Hutson Center during that time.
  • Bostick had no clearer of an idea about whether he can return from his leg injury in time for the season opener at Seattle on Sept. 4 than coach Mike McCarthy did a day earlier. However, Bostick on Tuesday confirmed that his injury is to his right leg (although he declined to give specifics other than to say it will not require surgery) and had nothing to do with his broken foot that ended his 2013 season. That injury was to his left foot, which required surgery to place a screw in the broken bone. "I still have time before the season starts," Bostick said. "So hopefully I'll be pretty good."
  • Mason Crosby made 5 of 6 field goals with his only miss from 44 yards (wide right). He was good from 33, 38, 42, 46 and 53 yards to run his training camp-long mark to 43-of-48 (89.6 percent). He is 3-for-3 in preseason games.
  • For the first time all camp, rookie center Corey Linsley took some team reps at guard during team periods. If Linsley is going to make the team, which looks likely, the fifth-round pick will need to show he can back up more than one position in order to be active on game day.
  • Cornerback Casey Hayward, who missed all but three games last season because of a hamstring injury but has participated fully in training camp this year, was limited on Tuesday. McCarthy said it was precautionary "just because of his history." He said guard T.J. Lang banged his shoulder late in the two hour and 16-minute practice. Otherwise, there were no new injuries.
  • There is no practice on Wednesday but the players will have their regular schedule of meetings, film work and walk-through sessions at Lambeau Field. The next open practice is Thursday at 10:30 a.m. local time.

How Crosby got his groove back

August, 5, 2014
Aug 5
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Almost exactly a year ago, Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby was kicking for his career.

He had come off a disastrous performance in the Family Night scrimmage, missing five of his eight field goals. He had a day off to fret over it and then came back to practice and missed another kick. At the time, he was 15-of-23 for camp and at 65.2 percent, he was only slightly better than his career-low of 63.6 percent from the previous season.

Crosby
 A year later?

"My day off was a lot nicer," Crosby said Monday.

It should have been. Crosby nailed all six of his Family Night field goals on Saturday and when the Packers returned to practice on Monday night, he nailed all eight of his kicks -- including field goals of 53 and 55 yards. For all of camp, he has made 28-of-30 kicks (93.3 percent).

After making a career-best 89.2 percent of his field goals last season, the eighth-year veteran has not cooled off one bit.

"Last year, he was under a pretty intense competition," Packers special teams coach Shawn Slocum said. "He did well towards the end of it and had a good season. He's come back this year, and I really like where he's at in terms of his kicking. He's got a good mindset, and I think he's in a good place."

 It turned out, Family Night of 2013 was a turning point for Crosby. He steadied himself and held off competition from two different kickers -- Giorgio Tavecchio and Zach Ramirez -- and has not looked back.

"I think I learned a lot from that as well and made sure I moved on on that day off," Crosby recalled. "Came back out Monday and tried to detail my work and be better than I was that night."

The only time he ever dwells on Family Night of 2013 -- or any other missed kick -- is when someone asks him about it.

"I don't feel like I was holding on too much a couple years ago but definitely when it starts compounding, it doesn't make it any easier," Crosby said. "I feel like I've done a good job of just being consistent and going out and making sure that I don't let those things hang on. I feel like all my work, before I even hit the ball, is very detailed. That obviously helps to be consistent and make those kicks."

Packers Camp Report: Day 7

August, 3, 2014
Aug 3
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Green Bay Packers training camp:
  • When Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he was going to treat the annual Family Night event like a regular practice instead of a scrimmage, he meant it. What the Family Night-record crowd of 67,336 at Lambeau Field on Saturday night saw was a near-perfect replication of what takes place across the street every day during camp at Ray Nitschke Field. About the only difference was near-constant music playing over the public address system and a fireworks show that followed. Tickets to the event were $10 and sold out in one week.
  • By the end of the receiver-defensive back one-on-one drill early in the practice, all the defensive players could do was laugh at the amount of penalty flags that flew. Even though they know the officials are placing an emphasis on contact in the passing game, they did not expect what they saw. There were about 20 reps in the drill and by unofficial count, the officials threw flags on 10 of them. Only one was on a receiver. "That was amazing," safety Micah Hyde said. "I've never seen that before in my life. I think they were trying to call every little thing. ... We were literally laughing after a while."
  • Just because the Packers gave cornerback Sam Shields a four-year, $39 million contract this offseason does not mean they're going to be afraid to use him on special teams. The speedy Shields was back at his usual spot as the outside cover man on the kickoff team.
  • Rookie second-round receiver Davante Adams has shown up big in practice more often of late. He made perhaps the best catch of Family Night, when he had to extend himself to haul in a ball on the left sideline from Matt Flynn against tight coverage from cornerback Antonio Dennard.
  • In other odds and ends: A year after he missed five of his eight field goals in Family Night, kicker Mason Crosby was perfect on Saturday. He ended the practice by making kicks of 28, 33, 38, 43, 48 and 50 yards. He is 20-of-22 so far in training camp. ... The two undrafted rookie running backs -- Tennessee’s Rajion Neal and Mississippi State’s LaDarius Perkins -- continue to make some impressive plays. On a fourth-and-1 play, Neal busted a stretch play to the left for a long gain. Even though there was no live tackling, the play appeared to be legitimate because Neal was untouched as he turned it up the field. ... Outside linebacker Mike Neal might struggle to play inside after dropping down to 264 pounds. He got swallowed up by rookie guard Jordan McCray on one play when he lined up at defensive tackle.
  • Rookie center Corey Linsley (shoulder) returned after missing only one day of practice. Those who did not dress on Saturday were: safety Tanner Miller (ankle), receiver Jeff Janis (illness), receiver Jared Abbrederis (ankle), defensive tackle Letroy Guion (hamstring), defensive end Jerel Worthy (back). Nose tackle B.J. Raji (ankle) and tight end Colt Lyerla (leg) dropped out of practice
  • Players are off on Sunday and don't return to the practice field until 5:30 p.m. CT on Monday.

W2W4: Packers' Family Night

August, 2, 2014
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – From a pure football standpoint (forget about the fireworks and the jersey giveaways) the best thing about the Green Bay Packers' Family Night was always the fact that it featured the first live tackling (except of the quarterbacks, of course) of the summer.

But even that is no more.

Coach Mike McCarthy decided to ditch the scrimmage this year in favor of a regular training camp practice. Fans still ate up the $10 tickets, and Lambeau Field is sold out for tonight's event, which gets underway with pre-practice activities at 5:30 p.m., but it surely won't be the same.

"Just the way the whole schedule laid out for Mike and his staff, we just needed that day as a normal practice day to be able to get everything accomplished that we wanted to get accomplished," Packers general manager Ted Thompson said this week. "And quite frankly, I don't know that it'll look a whole lot different. We still have some really good fireworks, which is a big hit in the locker room and with all the kids and that sort of thing."

With that in mind, here are a few things to watch:

QB competition: The last time anyone saw Scott Tolzien at Lambeau Field, he was getting benched in favor of Matt Flynn during the Nov. 24 tie against the Minnesota Vikings. So far in camp, Flynn holds the edge over Tolzien for the backup job behind Aaron Rodgers, but how Tolzien performs from here on out will determine whether the Packers have a difficult decision to make when it comes to deciding how many quarterbacks to keep.

"Matt knows what he does well and plays to his strengths," quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt said Friday. "He's won games for the Packers. Scott, he's still trying to catch up and learn. Having a year in the system in the offseason has helped him tremendously, so he's coming along as well. Matt's done a great job, and I think Scott should be commended as well."

One-on-one reps: The most competitive drill in training camp is almost always the one-on-one pass-rushing/pass-blocking drill and given that they did not do the drill on Friday, there's a good chance they will do so tonight.

Here's a look at the best records in the drill so far:

Offensive linemen: T.J. Lang (4-0), Bryan Bulaga (6-1), Corey Linsley (6-1), David Bakhtiari (5-1), Derek Sherrod (5-1), JC Tretter (5-2), Garth Gerhart (5-2) and Don Barclay (5-3).

Pass-rushers: Mike Daniels (6-2), Datone Jones (6-4), Mike Neal (3-3), Julius Peppers (2-2), B.J. Raji (4-6).

Crosby's kicks: If there was a low point for Mason Crosby, it might have been on Family Night last year. Coming off his worst NFL season and locked in a kicking competition with Giorgio Tavecchio, Crosby missed five of his eight kicks in the scrimmage. He eventually steadied himself to reclaim the job and went on to his best season. He has carried that over into training camp, where in two kicking sessions so far he has made 14-of-16. Special-teams coach Shawn Slocum said Crosby will kick tonight, but it won't be as extensive as last year's session.

"Last year he was under a pretty intense competition," Slocum said. "He did well toward the end of it and had a good season and has come back this year, I really like where he's at. I think he's in a good place right now."

Wild-card performers: In Family Nights of the past, there have been players who have come out of relative obscurity to make themselves noticed. One of the unknowns who has already worked his way up the depth chart is rookie free-agent linebacker Joe Thomas of South Carolina State, and he likely will get more opportunities to show whether he can make enough plays to earn a roster spot.

"I think I've just done enough to get the attention of the coaches and better my chances of making the team," Thomas said. "I've got to continue to progress each day to keep catching the eye of the coaches."

Until preseason games begin next week, there's no better chance to do so than on Family Night.

Abbrederis injury update: You won't see rookie receiver Jared Abbrederis on the field (although he may be in attendance), but we should learn more about his knee injury.

Indications are that the fifth-round pick from Wisconsin sustained a torn ACL, although he was awaiting another round of tests to be sure. If those tests confirm such, he will need season-ending surgery.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- After three days of training camp practices, the Green Bay Packers took Tuesday off.

Crosby
It's a small sample size, but before they get back on the field Wednesday morning at 8:20 local time, here's a look at what we've learned about them so far. After breaking down the offense and the defense, here’s a look at special teams:

Status quo: It's status quo among the three specialists -- kicker Mason Crosby, punter Tim Masthay and long-snapper Brett Goode. There's no in-house competition at those positions. Crosby, who was under the microscope at this time last season after coming off a sub-standard 2012 season, appears to be in a similar groove to last season, when he made a career-best 89.2 percent of his field goals. In the only field goal period of camp so far, he made 7-of-8 kicks, including a pair of 50-yarders.

Returners wanted: Special teams coach Shawn Slocum is shuffling returners through the drills like it's a wide-open competition. The days of receiver Randall Cobb handling the duties appear to be over even though he's their most accomplished returner. Safety Micah Hyde, who had a punt return for a touchdown last season as a rookie against the Vikings, has gotten the first crack at the job again. But rookie receiver Jared Abbrederis and second-year receiver Myles White also have gotten looks. Running back DuJuan Harris looks like the early leader to handle kickoff returns.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Over the last two weeks and leading up to the Green Bay Packers' first training camp practice on Saturday, we broke down each position group.

We wrap up the series with special teams.

Returning players: Mason Crosby (K), Tim Masthay (P), Brett Goode (LS).

Gone from last season: None.

New this season: None

Position coach: Shaun Slocum (sixth season, also spent three seasons as assistant special teams coach).

Crosby
Biggest issue: Despite a major rebound by Crosby, who had his best career season in 2013 following his worst in 2012, and another strong season by Masthay, the Packers finished 20th out of 32 teams in the Dallas Morning News' highly-regarded annual special teams rankings. Where did Slocum's unit struggle the most? Perhaps it was in covering kicks. Opponents started drives at an average of the 25.6-yard line, the best field position in the league last season.

Player to watch: Perhaps the most important person to keep an eye on this summer is not a player but rather a new addition to the coaching staff. Coach Mike McCarthy brought in former Illinois and Florida head coach Ron Zook to assist Slocum in coaching special teams. It's unusual for a 60-year-old veteran coach to serve in a position normally reserved for a young, up-and-coming coach, but it speaks to McCarthy's commitment to improving this unit. Zook coached special teams with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1996-98. He also has previous experience with McCarthy. The two were on New Orleans Saints coaching staff together in 2000 and 2001.

Medical report: There are no known injury issues.

Help wanted: While the Packers are set with their specialists, the return job might be wide open. The Packers seem unlikely to put receiver Randall Cobb back on return duties, but they would like someone just as dangerous. Defensive back Micah Hyde finished last season as the primary returner on both kickoffs and punts. Hyde, who was more effective as a punt returner, will face competition from several players. The most likely challenger might be rookie receiver Jared Abbrederis, a fifth-round pick from Wisconsin.

Quotable: "I thought we had a good year in a couple of areas and did poorly in one particular area, and that's explosive gains in coverage," Slocum said of last season. "That's something we've really got to improve. Can't give up explosive gains and expect to win field position or games."

Previous installments

July 14: Quarterbacks

July 15: Running backs

July 16: Receivers

July 17: Tight ends

July 18: Offensive line

July 21: Defensive line

July 22: Linebackers

July 23: Cornerbacks

July 24: Safeties
Examining the Green Bay Packers' roster:

Quarterbacks (3)
The Packers have not kept three quarterbacks on their opening-day roster since 2008, but they might be inclined to do so this season in order to avoid a situation like last year, when Rodgers broke his collarbone. Coach Mike McCarthy is high on Tolzien, who made two starts last season, but Flynn has proved he can win as a backup in Green Bay.

Running backs (4)

The return of Harris, who missed all of last season because of a knee injury, gives the Packers insurance behind Lacy and Starks. Kuhn is valuable both as a fullback and on special teams. It's possible they'll keep a fourth halfback, but the loss of Johnathan Franklin to a career-ending neck injury has left them without a strong in-house candidate for that spot.

Receivers (6)

The Packers often keep only five receivers, but given that they drafted three -- Adams (second round), Abbrederis (fifth round) and Janis (seventh round) -- there's a good chance they will keep six. Abbrederis and Janis will not only have to show they're better prospects than second-year pros Myles White and Chris Harper, but they also could help themselves if they can return kicks.

Tight ends (4)

McCarthy likes tight ends (he has kept five before), and the wild card is undrafted rookie Colt Lyerla.

Offensive linemen (8)

The Packers typically only activate seven offensive linemen on game day, so they can get away with keeping just eight on the roster. Barclay's ability to play all five positions also allows them some freedom. Lane Taylor could be the ninth lineman if they go that route.

Defensive line (7)

Worthy and Guion have work to do to make the roster, but there's room for them if you count Julius Peppers and Mike Neal among the outside linebackers, which is where they lined up more often in the offseason.

Linebackers (8)

There will be some tough cuts here. Second-year pros Nate Palmer and Andy Mulumba both played last year as rookie outside linebackers. It also may be tough for highly touted undrafted rookie Adrian Hubbard to make it.

Cornerbacks (6)

Hayward's return from last season's hamstring injury means he likely will return as the slot cornerback in the nickel package, a role played last year by Micah Hyde (who may primarily play safety this year).

Safeties (4)

The major question here is whether Hyde or Clinton-Dix will be the starter alongside Burnett. Chris Banjo, who played primarily on special teams last season, might be the odd man out.

Specialists (3)

There's no competition at any of these spots.
GREEN BAY, Wis. – After looking at how things are shaping up on offense and on defense as the Green Bay Packers head into training camp, it's time to examine the special teams depth chart.

Remember, this is an unofficial assessment, but it is based on observations during organized team activities and minicamp practices combined with interviews with assistant coaches and scouts.

Kicker: Mason Crosby

Notes: Last summer, the Packers conducted a full-scale competition for the job after Crosby's disastrous 2012 season. He not only beat out Giorgio Tavecchio and Zach Ramirez in training camp, but then went on to his best season. A year later, the Packers feel so confident in Crosby that they don't have another kicker on the roster. Crosby closed the offseason by making all seven of his field goals -- including a pair from 50-plus yards -- during his final minicamp practice and appears to have picked up where he left off in 2013.

Punter: Tim Masthay

Notes: Entering his fifth season as the Packers’ punter, Masthay kicked the ball well throughout the offseason. Like Crosby, he's the only specialist at his position on the roster.

Long snapper: Brett Goode

Notes: The Packers remain committed to keeping a roster spot for a specialized long snapper.

Kickoff returner: DuJuan Harris, Micah Hyde, Jared Abbrederis, Jeff Janis, Kevin Dorsey, Randall Cobb.

Notes: Special teams coach Shawn Slocum put Harris in as the number one returner during minicamp last month and wants to explore how the backup running back would fare in that role. Hyde was more effective as a punt returner than as a kickoff returner last season. The Packers are not likely to use Cobb as their primary returner anymore, but young receivers such as Abbrederis, Janis and Dorsey will get shots at it this preseason.

Punt returner: Hyde, Abbrederis, Cobb, Tramon Williams.

Notes: Hyde's sure-handedness and solid decision-making for a great punt-returning combination, but Abbrederis has the kind of speed and elusiveness that made Cobb special.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Here's a look at what stood out from the Green Bay Packers' minicamp practice on Thursday:

1. Veterans gone: For the final practice of the team's mandatory minicamp, coach Mike McCarthy excused all veterans with five or more years of experience. Without the 16 players that fit into that category, it gave the rookies and younger players more reps than they had received at any point previously in the offseason. But it meant this week's mandatory minicamp was essentially one day of football for the full squad because the Packers spent Wednesday at their annual team-building event, which this year was bowling.

"A lot of younger players got a lot of reps today that did not have the opportunity in the other practices," McCarthy said Thursday.

2. Tolzien shines: With Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn among those excused from practice, it gave young quarterbacks Scott Tolzien and Chase Rettig the chance to run the offense. For Tolzien, it was his first time getting starter reps since the weeks leading up to his two starts last season against the Giants and Vikings. Tolzien looked especially sharp in the red zone. On consecutive plays, he threw short touchdowns to his former University Wisconsin teammate Jared Abbrederis and tight end Brandon Bostick. The throw to Bostick was a perfectly thrown fade in the left corner of the end zone.

"I think any time that guys are relying on you and you're the first guy in the huddle, that's a big chance for you," Tolzien said. "But at the same time it shouldn't really change how you are. You should prepare like a starter every day."

3. Rettig's reps: Any reps for Rettig would have been more than normal given that the fourth quarterback on the depth chart rarely gets any work during team periods, so Thursday was big for the undrafted rookie from Boston College. There's no guarantee the Packers will take four quarterbacks to camp, but Rettig helped his cause with a few nice throws. He hit tight end Ryan Taylor in stride on a seam route and also connected with receiver Kevin Dorsey and tight end Richard Rodgers.

4. Changing duties: At one point during position drills, defensive line coach Mike Trgovac worked with the offensive linemen. A few yards away, offensive line coach James Campen ran the defensive line drill. That was something new this offseason, but it makes senses that a defensive line coach could give pointers to offensive linemen and vice versa.

5. Bradford's bat down: Rookie outside linebacker Carl Bradford made perhaps the most impressive defensive play of the practice when he batted down a pass attempt by Rettig on a two-point conversion try. The fourth-round pick from Arizona State showed his athletic ability by leaping and swatting the ball away with two hands.

6. Changing of the guard: With starting guards T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton among the veterans excused from practice, Don Barclay and Lane Taylor worked with the No. 1 offensive line. Barclay played left guard, while Taylor lined up on the right side. It showed how committed the Packers are to leaving Derek Sherrod at left tackle. As a rookie in 2011, Sherrod battled Lang for a starting job at guard. Instead, he remained as the backup left tackle.

7. Roll call, part 1: The 16 veterans excused on Thursday were: kicker Mason Crosby, cornerback Jarrett Bush, fullback John Kuhn, cornerback Tramon Williams, linebacker A.J. Hawk, linebacker Clay Matthews, linebacker/defensive end Julius Peppers, linebacker Brad Jones, long snapper Brett Goode, receiver Jordy Nelson, defensive tackle B.J. Raji, defensive tackle Letroy Guion, Flynn, Rodgers, Lang and Sitton.

8. Roll call, part 2: The following players attended practice but did not participate: receiver Chris Harper, cornerback Jumal Rolle, linebacker Nick Perry, tight end Andrew Quarless and defensive end Jerel Worthy. Running back Johnathan Franklin, who will be waived/injured on Friday because of a career-ending neck injury, was not present.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Here's a look at what stood out from the Green Bay Packers' minicamp practice on Tuesday:

Hayward
1. Hayward's return: Casey Hayward played like it was 2012, when he led all NFL rookies with six interceptions. After a lost 2013 season in which Hayward was limited to only three games (and no interceptions) because of a recurring hamstring injury, which first occurred on the eve of training camp, Hayward has taken part in the entire offseason program and looks to be back to his rookie form. During a play from the defense's 15-yard line during red zone period, Hayward made a leaping interception in the end zone on a corner route that may have been slightly underthrown by Matt Flynn for tight end Richard Rodgers.

"I told him today, don't go pulling a hamstring the day before he's supposed to come to training camp," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said after practice.

2. Tolzien's progress: On back-to-back plays during the final team period of practice, backup quarterback Scott Tolzien completed a deep out to Myles White and then threw a rocket on a seam route that rookie Jared Abbrederis snagged. They were among Tolzien's most impressive throws of the offseason and could be a sign that he is poised to launch a legitimate run at Flynn and the No. 2 job this summer.

"He's made improvements throughout the course of the whole camp," quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt said of Tolzien, "which is what you'd expect to see."

3. Matthews eases in: Clay Matthews was not an official participant in practice but near the end he jumped into a drill during a position group period. He did not wear a helmet but did some light drill work. He did not have any protection on his twice-broken right thumb.

"Clay is coming along," coach Mike McCarthy said. "He's still part of the group that's not practicing."

4. Cool Crosby: Mason Crosby was perfect on seven field goals during a special teams period. He hit from 33, 36, 40, 43, 45, 50 and 53 yards on a breezy day. The Packers have no plans to bring another kicker to training camp like they did last season, when Crosby was coming off his worst year in 2012. So far, he looks to be in the same form as last season, when he made 33-of-37 field goals.

"We've got to maintain this and not outkick ourselves and be fresh and explosive week to week," special teams coach Shawn Slocum said.

5. Rodgers on the Bucks: Just as he did in our one-on-one interview on Monday, quarterback Aaron Rodgers would not elaborate on his reported interest in becoming a part owner in the Milwaukee Bucks, who were recently sold.

"I don't have any update besides the fact that I was wearing a Bucks long-sleeve [shirt] with Rob Demovsky in my interview," Rodgers said.

6. Roll call, part 1: The following players were present but did not take part in practice: Matthews, cornerback Jumal Rolle, running back Johanthan Franklin, linebacker Nick Perry, Andrew Quarless and Jerel Worthy.

7. Roll call, part 2: Left guard Josh Sitton did not attend practice. McCarthy said Sitton had been excused.

8. Wednesday's activity: McCarthy has a practice on the schedule for Wednesday but given that it is closed to the public, it is expected that he will take the team on a non-football team-building exercise like he typically does during minicamp. The next practice open to the public is Thursday.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Here's a look at what stood out from the Green Bay Packers' second open OTA session of the offseason Tuesday:

1. Rookie catch up: Second-round receiver Davante Adams and third-round defensive tackle Khyri Thornton returned after missing last week's OTA sessions to attend the NFL Players Association Rookie Premier event. Adams said he stayed in his playbook during the trip to and from Los Angeles. "When I was out there, I was studying my playbook," Adams said. "When I was on the flight, I was studying my playbook. That's pretty much all it was."

Boykin
2. Boykin, Harper shine: Receivers Jarrett Boykin and Chris Harper had big days during team and 7-on-7 passing periods Tuesday. Both stood out during the team blitz period, catching hot reads from quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn. Boykin has been working as the No. 3 receiver despite the arrival of Adams and fellow draft picks Jared Abbrederis and Jeff Janis. Harper, a fourth-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks last year, was claimed off waivers last Oct. 18 and is an intriguing prospect with good size (6-foot-1, 228 pounds). "Chris has really improved," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after practice. "I mean, I think you saw the first snap there in the team period, I mean, he runs a great post and Aaron hits him right in stride. I mean, that's the kind of explosiveness that he has."

3. Barclay's versatility: Third-year pro Don Barclay is making a case for being the team's most versatile offensive lineman. He worked with the starters at left guard Tuesday, when Josh Sitton appeared to be limited. Last week, Barclay worked at right tackle behind Bryan Bulaga. He also could take reps at center. At this point, Barclay looks like he might be the team's top backup linemen at several positions. "Donny has the ability to potentially play five positions on the offensive line," McCarthy said. "I don't know how many guys you can say that about."

4. Inside pass-rush combination: It looks like defensive coordinator Dom Capers is going to give Datone Jones and Mike Daniels every chance to be his primary interior pass rushers in the sub packages. The Packers hope Jones can make the kind of jump Daniels made last year, when he increased his sack total from 2 to 6.5.

5. Another new guy: With B.J. Raji absent from Tuesday's practice, Letroy Guion took most of the reps at nose tackle with the starters. Guion, the former Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman who signed a one-year deal with the Packers this offseason, gives the Packers a taller option at the spot. He has two inches on the 6-2 Raji.

6. To the House: Fourth-year cornerback Davon House, who is coming off an inconsistent season, came up with an interception during a team period, when he picked off a corner route thrown by Flynn that was intended for Kevin Dorsey.

Crosby
7. Kicking competition: There's not another kicker on the roster this year, but it's still worth charting all of Mason Crosby's field goals. He went 7-for-8 during a team period on a windy Tuesday. His only miss was wide right from 47 yards. He also missed from 43 yards, but that kick was whistled dead at the snap and therefore did not count. Last year at this time, Crosby was kicking for his job. This year, he's coming off a career-best season in which he made 89.2 percent of his regular-season field goals.

8. Punt return rotation: Randall Cobb, Micah Hyde, Tramon Williams and Abbrederis took turns catching punts during a special teams period.

9. Roll call: Add cornerback Jumal Rolle to the list of those who did not practice. McCarthy does not give injury updates during OTAs, and Rolle was not available for comment. Others who did not practice due to injuries were: running back Johnathan Franklin, linebacker Clay Matthews, linebacker Nick Perry, tight end Andrew Quarless and tight end Brandon Bostick. Those five also missed last week's sessions.

10. Roll call, part II: Rookie tight end Colt Lyerla, defensive end Jerel Worthy and Raji were not in attendance. Lyerla's agent, Vinnie Porter, said the Packers were aware of Lyerla's absence in advance and excused him even though that was not necessary because it is a voluntary workout. McCarthy said he expected Lyerla back Wednesday. Worthy's grandmother died last week after she was accidentally shot.

The Packers' next open OTA session is next Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. local time.

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