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Packers practice report: Kicking intensifies

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Before practice on Tuesday morning, kicker Ryan Longwell will retire from the NFL as a member of the Green Bay Packers.

Before he does, the Packers might want to put their all-time leading scorer through one last workout. Even at age 38, he might be a better option than what they have.

Longwell, who asked for permission to retire as a Packer, played in Green Bay from 1997-2005 before signing with the Minnesota Vikings. He spent six years in Minnesota but was out of football in 2012 until the Seattle Seahawks signed him for their divisional playoff game after kicker Steven Hauschka strained a calf muscle. Longwell still holds the Packers’ records for points (1,054), field goals (226) and field goal percentage (81.6).

Now, the Packers are staging a full-fledged kicking competition between veteran Mason Crosby, who last season converted an NFL-worst 63.6 percent of his field goals, and first-year kicker Giorgio Tavecchio.

Coach Mike McCarthy ramped up that competition on Monday in large part because the Packers were so inept on offense in Friday’s 17-0 loss to the Arizona Cardinals that they didn’t attempt any field goals. And once again, there were signs of problems by Crosby on Monday. On a perfect day with little wind, Crosby had the only miss of a 16-kick period, when he was wide left from 46 yards. Both kickers attempted two kicks each from 36, 42, 46 and 53 yards. Crosby went 7-for-8, while Tavecchio made all eight. For the entire camp, Crosby is 22-of-31, while Tavecchio is 27-of-31.

“I thought they hit the ball better than the last time we lined them up,” McCarthy said. “We increased the volume; we need to continue to do that. We’re kicking every other day, and we just can’t do enough of it.”

While Tavecchio’s numbers look better, there are reasons for the Packers to be concerned about him, too. He uses a three-step approach, unlike Crosby’s two-step method, which means it could take him more time to get to the ball after it is snapped. Packers special-teams coach Shawn Slocum wants the ball to be kicked 1.3 seconds after it is snapped to avoid getting blocked.

“I know Coach Slocum has brought up a couple of good points about being quick on the get off,” Tavecchio said.

Tavecchio’s leg strength also is a question. On Monday, he showed more distance than in some recent sessions, but it remains to be seen whether he’s strong enough to handle cold-weather kicking conditions.

“I haven’t experienced that kind of weather yet,” said Tavecchio, a native of Italy who played college football at the University of California. “When I get there, hopefully I get there because that means I’m still around, I’ll deal with it.”

Here were some other developments from Monday’s practice:

  • It was the first session this summer that was closed to the public. It was a non-padded practice that McCarthy said focused on “potential concepts” that he did not want seen or written about.

  • Rookie receiver Tyrone Walker, the undrafted free agent from Illinois State, who had a team-high five receptions in the loss to the Cardinals, received increased playing time with the starting offense and may be challenging Jarrett Boykin and Jeremy Ross for the No. 4 or 5 receiver spot.

  • Rookie cornerback Micah Hyde, a fifth-round pick from Iowa, replaced Davon House as the starting right cornerback. House struggled against the Cardinals, allowing a 38-yard touchdown pass and completions of 18 and 36 yards. When the Packers went to their nickel package on Monday, House replaced Hyde on the outside, and Hyde played in the slot. Hyde and House have received increased reps while Casey Hayward (hamstring) and Tramon Williams (knee) remain sidelined.

  • McCarthy defended his decision to practice last Thursday, the day before the preseason opener. It was originally scheduled as a full-pads practice but was held without pads. He said that workout had nothing to do with the team’s poor performance against Arizona. “I don’t think there was a player who played above 35 plays,” McCarthy said. “If we can’t play with energy for 60 minutes after practicing Thursday, then those individuals aren’t going to be here. We’ve been very conscientious how we’re repping our football team, and I can’t be any more conscientious, frankly.”

Medical report: With right guard T.J. Lang resting his sore back, it was impossible to tell what the Packers have planned at right tackle. Don Barclay, who outperformed starting right tackle Marshall Newhouse against the Cardinals, played almost exclusively at Lang’s spot on Monday while Newhouse remained at right tackle.

First-round draft pick Datone Jones missed practice because of the sprained left ankle he sustained against the Cardinals but isn’t expected to be out for more than a few days.

Receiver Randall Cobb, who missed the Arizona game because of a biceps injury, practiced with a wrap on his upper right arm.

Others who missed practice were WR Kevin Dorsey (leg), WR Charles Johnson (knee), RB Eddie Lacy (hamstring), S Sean Richardson (neck), OL JC Tretter (ankle), T Bryan Bulaga (knee), T Andrew Datko (concussion), T Derek Sherrod (leg), TE Andrew Quarless (quad), TE Ryan Taylor (knee), WR Jordy Nelson (knee) and DE Jerel Worthy (knee)

What’s next: The Packers have a full-pads practice that is open to the public on Tuesday at 11:15 a.m. CT.