GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Here's something I've never seen in five years of visiting Green Bay Packers offseason practices: Someone other than Mason Crosby attempting a kick. For the first time in six years, Crosby is facing competition -- however slight -- for his job.
Green Bay Packers
The decision to give Giorgio Tavecchio, a first-year player who has never attempted an NFL kick, one of 90 offseason roster spots wouldn't have created a ripple on most teams. In Green Bay, however, the Packers have left Crosby alone ever since he won the job in 2007. His career-worst 2012 performance reduced his benefit of the doubt, but nothing I heard or saw in two days at the Packers' minicamp this week suggested he is in a true battle for his job.
If anything, the Packers have applied a subtle nudge.
"I want him to compete," coach Mike McCarthy said. "There's no doubt about it. Last year's performance definitely warrants competition. ... Let's be honest. Mason has to perform at a whole other level than he did last year. I believe he will. But this is what he needs. He needs competition just like all of us. Competition brings out the best of us, and I'm looking for him to make the most of it."
We've discussed the Packers' commitment to Crosby a number of times. To be fair, his high number of 50-plus yard attempts, along with the conditions at Lambeau Field, necessitate an adjusted view of his performance. Still, Crosby's 63.6 conversion rate in 2012 was the NFL's worst (for place-kickers with at least 20 attempts) in eight seasons. The Packers couldn't let that number go totally unaddressed, even if they have no interest in parting ways with him.
"I'm not thinking about last season anymore unless it comes up in these kinds of [media] settings," Crosby said. "I'm drawing on positives and I'm focusing on what is ahead. ... I've evaluated last season and moved on."
Barring a complete collapse in training camp, there doesn't seem to be much suspense in this competition.