Dietrich-Smith, Jolly and Crosby are Sunday’s captains

Posted by Duke Bobber on October 27, 2013 – 3:30 pm

* Notes written by Packers public relations

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As per team tradition, the Packers select game captains each week. Tonight’s captains will be C/G Evan Dietrich-Smith (offense), DT Johnny Jolly (defense) and K Mason Crosby (special teams).


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Mason Crosby named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week

Posted by Mike Spofford on October 9, 2013 – 9:54 am

K Mason Crosby

Packers K Mason Crosby has been named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week following his 5-for-5 day on field goals last Sunday vs. Detroit.

Crosby made kicks from 26, 52, 31, 42 and 45 yards in the Packers’ 22-9 victory, improving his mark to 9-for-9 on the season. A Packers kicker hadn’t made five field goals in a game in 13 years, and he tied the franchise record for most in a single game, matching Chris Jacke (who did it twice, in 1990 and 1996) and Ryan Longwell (2000).

Crosby has now made 13 straight field goals in the regular season, dating back to 2012. Including last year’s two playoff games, he has made 15 in a row. Crosby holds the franchise record with 23 consecutive field goals made in the regular season, which he set from Week 13 of 2010 through Week 12 of 2011.

This marks the fifth time in his career that Crosby has been named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week, and the first time since Week 7 of 2011.


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Five game balls awarded vs. Lions

Posted by Mike Spofford on October 7, 2013 – 3:00 pm

Game balls

The Packers coaching staff on Monday awarded five games balls to players for their performances in the 22-9 victory over the Lions at Lambeau Field.

On offense, guards T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton were awarded game balls for their blocking against Detroit DTs Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley.

On defense, outside linebackers Nick Perry and Mike Neal were the recipients. Perry had the first two-sack game of his career, while Neal added a sack and two other tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

On special teams, kicker Mason Crosby was awarded a game ball for his 5-for-5 effort on field goals. Crosby made kicks from 26, 52, 31, 42 and 45 yards, tying the franchise record for made field goals in a game.


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Training camp look in: Crosby perfect in kick competition

Posted by Vic Ketchman, packers.com editor on August 27, 2013 – 12:02 pm

GREEN BAY–Mason Crosby would seem to be on the verge of retaining the job he’s held since 2007.

In a two-bout, high-stakes kicking competition in Tuesday’s practice at Ray Nitschke Field, Crosby converted all 14 of his field goal attempts. The distances in round one ranged from 33-58 yards and the kicks were into a light wind. In round two, the distances ranged from 35-64 yards and the kickers were downwind. Challenger Nick Ramirez was a combined six of 16, four of seven into the wind and two of nine downwind. He was afforded two extra kicks — both from 58 yards — in the downwind round, and failed to convert either one.

Tuesday’s practice, on possibly the hottest day of training camp, is the last of camp and must be followed by a roster reduction to 75 players by late this afternoon.

Packers.com will provide a full report following practice.

For more on Tuesday’s camp-ending kicking competition, click here.


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Game notes: Defense makes big plays but gets banged up

Posted by Mike Spofford on August 24, 2013 – 12:39 am

For the broader overviews of Friday night’s game, check out the game recap and the locker room report. Here are some additional game notes:

–Defense makes high-impact plays, but at a cost: Seattle QB Russell Wilson isn’t easy to get to, but the Packers defense made several big plays against him, recording three sacks and two interceptions of Wilson, who played the entire first half and the first series of the second half.

LB Clay Matthews

LB Clay Matthews

Unfortunately, some of those players making the big plays also left the game with injuries.

Wilson started hot, converting a pair of third downs with long pass plays on the opening drive, but LB Clay Matthews sacked him for a 12-yard loss in the red zone, leading to a field goal.

“He’s going to make his plays, but for the most part, we got after him, got our hands on him and got him down,” Matthews said of Wilson.

The defense opened the second drive with another sack, this one by LB Brad Jones, before getting a pair of interceptions on the Seahawks’ last two drives of the first half. The first was by CB Casey Hayward, who was making his preseason debut, off a double deflection by LBs Nick Perry and Robert Francois.

“Obviously he’s continuing his playmaking ability from last year,” Matthews said of Hayward, who led all NFL rookies in 2012 with six interceptions. “It was good to have him back out there, good to see what he’s capable of, and we’re going to need it this year.”

Hayward may have come back from his hamstring injury too soon, however. He re-aggravated the hamstring in the game. Jones and S Morgan Burnett also were mentioned by Mike McCarthy after the game as having hamstring injuries.

The second interception came from S Jerron McMillian, who made a diving grab of an overthrown ball at midfield.

The defense got one more sack of Wilson on the opening drive of the second half, as backup DL Jordan Miller brought him down. Another sack by DE C.J. Wilson three plays later was negated by an offensive holding penalty, which the Packers accepted for the additional lost yardage.

Rookie LB Nate Palmer added a sack of backup QB Brady Quinn in the second half, and another sack of Quinn by DL Mike Daniels was nullified by an offsides call on linemate Datone Jones.

“From what I understand, our sack numbers jumped dramatically from 2011 to 2012, so I think we were pretty good last year, and I think we’re improving this year,” Daniels said.

–Harris limps off: Another notable injury was to RB DuJuan Harris, who got his first preseason action and had three carries for two yards, plus one reception for 11 yards. But after the 11-yard catch, Harris was slow to get up and said afterward his knee was bothering him, the same knee that kept him out of the first two weeks of training camp.

“I’m all right,” he said. “I walked off. Everything will be good.

“It felt like it’s been forever since I took a carry. I feel like I could have done a little more on some of those, but we’ll see when we look at the film.”

–Crosby makes it count: K Mason Crosby bounced back from his three-miss practice on Wednesday to convert his only FG try on the night, from 38 yards in the first quarter.

“Whatever happens during the week, I need to have a good game,” Crosby said. “I felt good on that field goal.”

–Finding daylight: In what could be shaping up as a battle for the last RB spot on the roster, third-year pro Alex Green found some daylight on a wide toss play, cutting upfield for 31 yards, more than double the longest rush by a Packers back in this preseason.

“It’s very important to go out and show at least a little bit of what you can do,” Green said. “Hopefully it’s enough for the coaches to like.”

Assuming Harris plus draft picks Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin make the team, a final RB spot could come down to Green or James Starks, who didn’t get any carries Friday night and was unable to make up for a fumble in last week’s game in St. Louis that led to his removal from the contest.


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News & notes: WR Jarrett Boykin continues to battle, kickers perfect

Posted by Mike Spofford on August 13, 2013 – 5:03 pm

WR Randall Cobb was playing through some obvious pain in Tuesday’s practice. For an update on that, check out today’s feature story. Here are some other news & notes:

–Boykin, Jolly stand out: Undrafted rookie WR Tyrone Walker has received a lot of attention lately, but second-year pro Jarrett Boykin isn’t about to give up his roster spot that easily.

WR Jarrett Boykin

WR Jarrett Boykin

Boykin had a strong practice on Tuesday, making several catches working with both the regular offense and scout-team offense.

Boykin made a nice grab on a comeback in traffic, a diving catch of a slant from QB Vince Young and later a spinning catch in the middle of the field. He nearly capped off his day by hauling in a deep ball from QB B.J. Coleman along the sideline, but the throw was just out of reach and bounced off his outstretched hand.

DE Johnny Jolly was another player who looked to be having a strong practice. In the one-on-one pass-rush drill, Jolly slipped by G Greg Van Roten with a quick spin, and then he beat C Patrick Lewis with a swim move.

It should be noted that Van Roten then bounced back with strong reps against DE B.J. Raji and DE Mike Neal.

–Kickers perfect: Both Mason Crosby and Giorgio Tavecchio were a perfect 8-for-8 on field goals in another head-to-head duel. The kickers kicked two series of four kicks, the first from 33, 43, 48 and 50 yards, and the second from 34, 39, 45 and 54 yards.

As has usually been the case, Crosby’s kicks have carried a longer distance, and it’s especially noticeable on the longer field goals.

“Right now I’m hitting the ball really well,” Crosby said. “I’m striking it solid, and I’ve put a few good days together here, and that’s positive. But definitely Giorgio is hitting great balls and it’s motivating for me. I’m focused in and making sure that I’m taking care of my business.”

The day prior, Crosby was 7-for-8 and Tavecchio was 8-for-8, meaning the two kickers have combined to go 31-for-32 over the last two practices.

“These last two days were good,” Crosby said. ” It was good to test our bodies and test our minds a little bit and get out there and hit two long sets in a sense. I think hitting that many balls really pushed me and got me into a rhythm and into a good spot.”

–Hayward still out: Mike McCarthy made it sound as though the return of CB Casey Hayward, who has not practiced all training camp due to a hamstring injury, was not imminent, though his medical reports have improved.

“Casey Hayward’s injury is going to take time,” McCarthy said. “He’s made a lot of progress in the last 5-6 days. As far as the timeline, we’ll have a better understanding next week how close he is.”

A defensive rookie of the year candidate last year, Hayward led all rookies in 2012 with six interceptions.

–Pickett misses practice: DE Ryan Pickett missed practice due to a personal matter. He indicated on his Twitter account that he had to take one of his children to the hospital, but everything is fine.

G T.J. Lang (back) continued to sit out, as did fellow lineman Andrew Datko (concussion). McCarthy said Datko is “getting close” to passing the tests that are part of the concussion protocol.


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News & notes: Datone Jones’ one snap was impressive

Posted by Mike Spofford on August 12, 2013 – 5:26 pm

For the rundown on RB DuJuan Harris’ return to the practice field and some increased reps for rookie WR Tyrone Walker and rookie CB Micah Hyde, check out today’s feature story. Here are some additional news & notes from Monday:

–One snap but good: Rookie DE Datone Jones lasted only one snap in Friday’s preseason opener before leaving with an ankle injury, but when his teammates viewed that snap on film, they were impressed.

DE Datone Jones

DE Datone Jones

Jones came in for the nickel package on the first third down of the game and was matched against Arizona G Jonathan Cooper, who like Jones was a first-round draft draft pick. In the words of fellow defensive lineman B.J. Raji, “He completely whipped the guy and had a chance to get a sack.”

“We all talked about how great of a move he had on the guy,” Raji said. “It was rookie on rookie, first-round pick on first-round pick, and Datone, he won that rep and his leg just got caught. The other guy kind of tripped him and got his ankle. But judging Datone off that one play, his future definitely looks bright.”

Mike McCarthy said Jones would be out of practice for at least a couple of days, and he wasn’t sure if he’d be available to play in St. Louis on Saturday night.

–More on injuries: WR Randall Cobb (bicep) was back at practice on Monday with a wrap on his upper right arm. G T.J. Lang (back) did not practice and was replaced at right guard with the No. 1 offensive line by Don Barclay. McCarthy called the holding out of Lang “precautionary” and suggested it could continue on Tuesday.

RB Eddie Lacy (hamstring) missed practice again and did some testing of his injury, but McCarthy said he didn’t know how the test went.

–New outlook: Two of the Packers’ backup offensive linemen who have received praise lately from the coaches and whose reps are increasing are second-year pro Greg Van Roten and undrafted rookie Lane Taylor.

Van Roten appears to be the top backup at center behind Evan Dietrich-Smith, and he also takes a fair share of snaps at guard. Taylor has worked both guard spots in camp and managed to play well in Friday’s game despite a lack of rest.

The day before the game, Taylor’s wife gave birth to the couple’s first child, a daughter. He missed practice on Thursday but slept at the hospital that night with his wife and newborn, who arrived just after 5 p.m. He returned to Lambeau Field on Friday to prepare for the game and performed rather well.

“I feel like I’m starting to really clean up my technique and get fundamentally sound. It’s starting to pay off,” Taylor said. “You’ll get beat, it’s the NFL, but I keep plugging away and I’m starting to see some results.”

Undrafted out of Oklahoma State, Taylor had a handful of free-agent offers after the draft and chose Green Bay, seeing it as a “good fit.” He has a legitimate shot at a roster spot, but he admitted there’s even more motivation now with a daughter on his hands.

“Most definitely,” he said. “Having a newborn makes you more motivated because you want to go out there and provide and bring the best life for her.”

Getting his kicks: K Giorgio Tavecchio won Monday’s head-to-head kicking competition by going 8-for-8 on field goals to Mason Crosby’s 7-for-8. Crosby’s lone miss was wide left from 46 yards. With neither kicker getting a chance in Friday’s game, they can expect more work in practice as the preseason continues.

“If they ask us for 30 kicks, we’ll give them as many as we can,” said Tavecchio, who continues to preach his one-day-at-a-time approach in his effort to take Crosby’s job.

“It was a warm day today, so the balls were flying,” he said. “I felt like myself, Tim (Masthay) and Brett (Goode) were in a good rhythm with the snap, hold and kick.

“I have to watch the film to really see and dissect everything, because right now I feel good. But I always take a good look at the film and be unbiased about it. Take the lessons, the good, bad and if there’s any ugly, take that too and keep moving forward.”


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News & notes: Vince Young takes more snaps, kicking competition continues

Posted by Mike Spofford on August 7, 2013 – 3:06 pm

For the latest injury news and a recap of Wednesday’s practice skirmishes, check out today’s feature story. Here are some other news and notes:

–Young more involved: New QB Vince Young took far more snaps in the team (11-on-11) drills than he did his first day, and the uneven results were to be expected. It appeared on one play that Young’s cadence caused someone to false start, and later he overthrew TE D.J. Williams, leading to an interception by S Chaz Powell.

He came back from that to make a good throw to WR Jeremy Ross, only to have it knocked away at the last moment by CB Loyce Means.

“Vince Young is on Day 2 in a new offense,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “One of the reasons why we signed Vince Young is he knows how to play quarterback. He knows how to win. He’s played in games. He has experience. The hard part is what he’s going through right now. It’s a whole different verbiage.”

–Kickers even: In a brief kicking session, both Mason Crosby and Giorgio Tavecchio went 3-for-4 on field goals. Crosby was good from 36, 46 and 48 but missed wide right from 50. Tavecchio was good from 36, 48 and 51 but missed wide left from 46.

Not to get lost in the competition is the burden placed on holder Tim Masthay, who has to switch back and forth holding for both a right-footed (Crosby) and left-footed (Tavecchio) kicker from snap to snap.

“I feel like it’s come along pretty well,” Masthay said. “Ever since we signed Giorgio, I’ve taken a ton of snaps here. I’ve got a Jugs machine at my house and I’ve been catching left-handed field goal snaps for quite a while now and I’m starting to feel pretty comfortable with it. I feel good going into the game.”

Masthay also has been taking regular reps kicking off, and he did well in last Saturday’s scrimmage, but he was audibly upset at himself when he flubbed a low line-drive kickoff in practice on Wednesday. Masthay kicked off in college at Kentucky and enjoys getting his swings in.

“I was so mad at myself. It’s been quite a while since I mis-hit a kickoff like I did on that one today,” he said. “I don’t know if I just got a little too juiced up trying to crush it or something.”

–Different perspectives: Whether or not the post-whistle skirmishes witnessed Wednesday are good for the team depends on the point of view. DL Mike Daniels, who has been one of the more outspoken and feisty players throughout camp, loves it.

“The monotony of training camp, you see the same people every day, you eat the same grilled chicken every day, you should lose your mind,” Daniels said. “You should be angry when you hit the field. You should want to beat the crap out of each other. We’ve been doing that, and like I said, I can only imagine what we do when we see somebody we don’t like.”

QB Aaron Rodgers chalked up the extracurricular activity to fatigue and didn’t particularly care for it, but he agreed that it’s simply time to play against an opponent.

“Guys are grumpy and just don’t really take any of that extra stuff,” he said. “That’s part of camp. Some people like it more than others. I’d rather not have our guys punching each other in the helmet, hurting their hands, so hopefully that nonsense is done with. We’re excited about moving on to face somebody else.”

–Next man up: Rodgers called his new left tackle, rookie David Bakhtiari, “raw” and said he’ll be learning “in the fire” if he’s indeed the Week 1 starter.

Bakhtiari will be charged with handling the opponent’s best pass rusher on a regular basis, and Rodgers will need to have confidence that his blind side isn’t constantly under siege.

“There’s usually a tough guy at that position rushing at my back side against every team, and against their best pass rusher you need a lineman who can hold up,” Rodgers said. “Obviously we believe in David.”

Another injury on the offensive line could be problematic, though, Rodgers suggested.

“I’ve said before in this camp it’s impressive the kind of depth that we have, and now our depth is going to get tested,” he said. “We need those guys to step up and play well and be healthy. There’s fluke injuries in this thing and they’re frustrating, but from this point forward it’s going to be important that we keep all those guys healthy.”


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Mason Crosby preparing for strong finish

Posted by Mike Spofford on January 10, 2013 – 2:33 pm

The Packers didn’t bring any other kickers in to compete with Mason Crosby when he was slumping. The 49ers did, with incumbent David Akers and newcomer Billy Cundiff staging a weeklong competition to see who will kick on Saturday night.

Crosby reiterated again on Thursday that he was plenty motivated by his own struggles, whether or not the Packers brought in some competition for his job. But he does appreciate the support the organization showed him, and after making five consecutive field goals over the last three games, his focus is on continuing the strong finish to an otherwise rough season.

“For me, it’s about finishing everything,” Crosby said. “I finished the regular season strong, and now it’s finishing these playoffs and every opportunity I have. I’m thankful to be here.

“Consistency is the name of the game, and these last few weeks I’ve felt good with that, and it’s the playoffs now. I have to be consistent, be solid and take advantage here.”


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Mason Crosby feels momentum for playoffs

Posted by Mike Spofford on January 2, 2013 – 4:09 pm

Mason CrosbyPackers K Mason Crosby knows he could be in a very different situation right now. All he has to do is look at the San Francisco 49ers, who signed veteran K Billy Cundiff this week amidst regular K David Akers’ struggles.

The Packers didn’t go that route during Crosby’s midseason slump. They maintained their confidence in him and let him work his way out of it, and he’s rewarded that trust with four straight successful field goals over the last two games, including two clutch kicks last week at the Metrodome — a 51-yarder on the final play of the first half and a 40-yarder to tie the score early in the fourth quarter.

“I’ve known since I’ve been here that I’m in a special place,” said Crosby, who was a sixth-round draft choice in 2007. “I’m doing a lot of good things here and I’ve done a lot in the past and I want to continue to do that. The relationships that we’ve formed here as a team, I don’t think you get that very many places.”

Crosby said he wouldn’t have found any extra motivation had the Packers brought in another kicker to compete with him and possibly take his job. He said he gets his motivation internally and through the support of his teammates, whom he doesn’t want to let down.

“I have plenty of motivation. This is what I do for a living. This is what I love to do,” he said. “I look at my teammates every day. I didn’t have to look at another kicker to say I want to make kicks, I want to get my job done. I look at the guys in this locker room and the group of guys that I get to come to work with very day, and that was enough motivation for me.”

Crosby added that he likes the vibe around the team this week as the playoffs approach, saying the players can feel a “buzz.” Last week’s loss was difficult, but at this point there’s no looking back.

“It hurt us. We wanted to win last week. We put a lot into it, a lot of heart into that game,” Crosby said. “For us, it’s a quick move on. We get another crack at it here, at home, at Lambeau, and you can feel it from the guys here that we’re ready to make a run.”


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