GREEN BAY, Wis. -- After watching the most extended head-to-head kicking period of training camp during Saturday night’s scrimmage, it would have been reasonable to walk out of Lambeau Field thinking the Green Bay Packers might have to look elsewhere for their kicker.
Veteran kicker Mason Crosby showed that his troubles from 2012 are far from behind him. He made just 3-of-8 field goals on Saturday and drew a smattering of boos from the 63,047 fans. While his competitor, Giorgio Tavecchio, made 6-of-7 field goals during the scrimmage, his lack of leg strength was apparent when he narrowly made kicks from 51 and 53, the latter of which hit the crossbar before going through.
At this point, however, there aren’t a lot of other options.
Of the kickers listed on the NFL’s inactive player list, only three have any significant NFL experience: Nate Kaeding, David Buehler and Justin Medlock. Kaeding said this spring that he was retiring because of recurring injuries, Buehler was always considered more of a kickoff specialist and Medlock’s agent, Frank Murtha, said Sunday afternoon that he had not heard anything from the Packers.
Medlock was in the same draft class as Crosby, in 2007, and was picked in the fifth round (one round ahead of Crosby) by the Kansas City Chiefs. He didn’t last his first season in Kansas City. Medlock kicked in 10 games last season for the Carolina Panthers but was released after missing a field goal in three straight games.
There’s also long list of kickers still available who have been with teams for short periods of time in various offseasons but never stuck.
The other option is to wait and see what kickers currently in other training camps get released later in the preseason.
For now, that means the Packers will have to hope Crosby works through his slump or Tavecchio shows them enough.
“I’ll say this for my conversation with Mason … just from a fundamental standpoint, I mean he’s got to do better than that,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy.
Crosby said he is focused on himself, not the competition with Tavecchio, which is probably the right approach because the reality is that if Crosby doesn’t kick well, the Packers will move on whether it’s to Tavecchio or someone else.
“I can’t think about things like that,” Crosby said.
The issue with Tavecchio isn’t his accuracy. That’s been impressive. He has made 16-of-19 kicks in competitive situations so far this training camp (compared to 12-of-19 for Crosby), but the ball doesn’t pop off his foot like it should. The 51- and 53-yarders he made were in perfect summer weather conditions. Those kicks will be much tougher in the cold of November and December.
“I’m not so sure it’s leg strength in general,” Tavecchio said after Saturday night’s scrimmage. “I didn’t hit the ball as solid as I would have liked tonight. I think that’s what happened. That’s why I lost some distance. I got under it a little. I was leaving them up in the air. … That’s why the balls were barely sneaking over from outside of 50. In practice, we’re hitting from 53 (and) 55, and they’re going over the fence behind the uprights.”