GREEN BAY – When the San Francisco 49ers signed Billy Cundiff off the street Tuesday to compete with struggling veteran kicker David Akers during their playoff bye week, the move was in stark contrast to how the Green Bay Packers handled their own embattled kicker, Mason Crosby.
The Packers never brought in any competition for Crosby, head coach Mike McCarthy repeatedly stated his public support for him, and he’s now entering Saturday’s NFC Wild Card playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field having made his last four kicks, including 51- and 40-yarders in Sunday’s loss to the Vikings at Mall of America Field at the Metrodome.
“We didn’t determine that we needed to light a fire under our kicker. We determined that we needed to get our kicker doing the right thing, and we’ve done that,” special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum said Wednesday.
“I really feel good about the way Mason has responded to everything that’s gone on this season. I think he’s put in some very good work, detailed work and he’s got his rhythm and timing back. It looks like he’s striking the ball the way it’s supposed to be struck. I think his mindset is right where it needs to be. His performance in the last two ballgames was just right. As we’ve said, as we’ve moved through the season, we’re going to need him as we progress. Field goals in these games in the playoffs will be very important.”
Entering the postseason, Crosby still ranks last in the NFL in field-goal accuracy, having made 63.6 percent of his kicks (21 of 33). Akers is second-worst, at 69 percent (29 of 42). On Wednesday, he said he appreciated the Packers’ patience with him – and vowed to come through for his teammates in the postseason.
“The confidence this organization and (McCarthy) showed in me, that definitely helps,” Crosby said. “I go around and I look in this locker room every day and I look at my teammates, guys I’ve played with for a long time now, and that’s what motivates me to go out and be successful and have confidence and do my thing.
“I never dwelt on, ‘Are they going to bring guys in? What’s going to happen here?’ That whole situation, you can’t really think that way. Just kept going, week-in and week-out. My ultimate thing, where I draw my confidence from and whenever I go on the field, who I want to play for, is my teammates in this locker room, and this organization. … That’s what got me through this, and that’s what helped me these last two games have success and have that momentum carrying into the playoffs here.”
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