GREEN BAY – While it’s worth reminding everyone that the annual Family Night Scrimmage is merely a glorified training-camp practice – one that had 63,047 in attendance at Lambeau Field on Saturday night – it would appear the Green Bay Packers have themselves a bona fide kicking competition on their hands.
Incumbent Mason Crosby and challenger Giorgio Tavecchio went head-to-head in the final period of the scrimmage, and for Crosby, who was just 21 of 33 on field-goal attempts in the regular season last year, the results weren’t pretty: He was 2-for-6 during that period and 3-for-8 on the night.
Tavecchio, meanwhile, made 5 of 6 during the competition period and was 6 of 7 on the night.
“Well, Mason Crosby is competing for a job on our football team, like everyone else. He definitely didn’t take a step in the right direction with his performance,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said afterward. “That’s what Family Night’s for. He’ll be evaluated. He’s definitely got to do better than that because that’s not going to cut it.”
Asked if his problems were a carryover from last year’s struggles, Crosby replied, “No. I’m way past that. I’m just working on things. It was just tonight I didn’t hit the ball the way I wanted to. I didn’t hit it on the lines I wanted to. I had great lift, hit good balls, just picked some bad lines.”
Crosby’s night began with him doinking a 48-yarder off the right upright on a kick toward the south end zone from the right hashmark. He later made a 40-yarder.
Then, in the competition portion, he began by missing a 37-yarder from the right hash. He followed that with a 47-yarder that he made from the left hash, but then missed wide right on a 53-yarder from the right hash.
Tavecchio, meanwhile, was good from 37 and 53 but missed from 47. His 53-yarder hit the crossbar and caromed over.
The competition then moved to north end and Crosby promptly missed wide right from 33 yards and the left hash, then was wide right again from 43 yards from the right hash. He made his final attempt, a 51-yarder from the left hash.
“A couple moved out, but I just hit a couple on lines I didn’t really feel good about when it came off my foot,” Crosby said. “I can’t overread it, can’t over do anything like that. I’ve just got to go out and drill it through the middle. That last kick is the way I need to hit it, just be smooth and hit it. I’ve been doing that in practice.
“(I) felt great coming in, I felt good with my prep in pregame, pre-practice here, just had a couple get away of me. It’s unacceptable, and I’ve got to do better.”
On Thursday, Crosby had made all five of his kicks in practice – from 33, 37, 43, 47 and 51 yards – while Tavecchio went 5 for 6.
“I had a (good) day the other day… It’s a day to day thing,” Crosby said. “I’ve got to evaluate this, move on from it and go out and hit the ball well in practice and in the next preseason game.”
For his part, Tavecchio took his performance in stride. While his 53- and 51-yarders barely had enough distance, he said the issue was more how he struck the ball with his foot than any lack of leg strength.
“I wasn’t super-pleased with how I hit the ball. But the ball goes in sometimes, and sometimes you hit good balls and they don’t go in, which I think was what happened to Mason today,” Tavecchio said. “I feel a lot of emotions right now. I’m obviously pleased with the results. I don’t feel like I hit the ball as solid as I wanted to. Again, I’ll sleep well, go to mass tomorrow and come back and watch the film, be a little bit calmer and really assess it.
“I feel so much for him. I thought he struck the ball well. it’s so frustrating as a kicker when you hit the ball well and it’s not where you want it to be. I thought he struck the ball better than I did today, but again, the results show differently, unfortunately.”
Said McCarthy: “Giorgio’s distance definitely has improved since the spring. I think he’s done a very good job of that,” McCarthy said. “I thought he hit a couple nice kickoffs, too, particularly with the height. The kickers, the quarterbacks, the defensive linemen, all the way through, we’re about winning and quality of play and we’ll evaluate this tape and our skilled position guys are evaluated, their fundamentals are broken down and how they kick the ball or how they throw the ball, how they catch the ball, that’s all part of the evaluation process.”
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