Category Archives: Kickers

7

October

Game Balls and Lame Calls: Packers 22, Lions 9

Morgan Burnett and A.J. Hawk helped contain the Calvin Johnson-less Lions offense.

Morgan Burnett and A.J. Hawk helped contain the Calvin Johnson-less Lions offense.

Kickoff was scheduled for noon in Green Bay, but the game between the Packers and Detroit Lions got underway mid-morning with the surprising news that Calvin Johnson was inactive.

Johnson, regarded as the best receiver in football, may be as important to the Lions offense as any non-quarterback is to his team around the league. And although the Lions added Reggie Bush this offseason to give them a more complete offense, it’s Johnson that makes the wheels go round.

With Johnson out, the Lions were unable to get anything going against the Packers defense.

Coming into the game, Bush—whom the Lions move all over the formation and utilize him in the passing game—looked like a tough matchup for a Packers defense that struggles in the middle of the field, but Detroit’s new offensive weapon managed just 69 total yards on 17 touches.

It’s hard to say what might have been had the Lions’ offense been at full strength, as the high-flying Packers offense only posted 22 points themselves. But in the end, five Mason Crosby field goals and a James Jones touchdown was all the Packers needed to get their second win of the season.

And as things currently stand, the Packers (2-2) trail the Lions and Bears (3-2) by only one game atop the NFC North standings.

Game Balls

Mason Crosby

After a disastrous 2012 season and ugly Family Night Scrimmage, Crosby has brought his A-game so far the regular season. With the offense struggling to punch the ball into the end zone, Crosby scored 16 of the team’s 22 points and left little doubt on his five field-goal attempts. I’m no kicking expert, so I often relate kickers to golfers. And right now, Crosby is hitting the fairways with his short irons and his driver. But of course, Giorgio Tavecchio would’ve been six-for-five with a hole-in-one.

Nick Perry

Welcome to the NFL. Sunday was unquestionably (right?) the best game of Perry’s NFL career, as last year’s first-round pick registered his first multi-sack performance. The Packers were unable to come up with the football after Perry forced a fumble on a sack of Stafford, but Clay Matthews’ book end showed flashes throughout the afternoon of why the team drafted him in the first round of last year’s draft. If the Packers are getting three sacks out of Perry and Matthews, they’re going to be tough to beat.

12

September

Packers Stock Report: Wide Receivers can also be Tough Guys Edition

Randall Cobb showed toughness by fighting for this touchdown.

When you think of tough football players — whether they play for the Packers or not — you probably think of Mike Singletary and his stare, Ray Nitschske and his scowl or Ronnie Lott lopping off part of his finger so he could keep playing.

You probably don’t think of too many wide receivers, especially modern-day receivers with their diva-like tendencies. There’s a couple of Packers wide receivers that are the exception to that rule, though, and should be on any list of tough guys in today’s NFL.

Read this week’s stock report to learn more:

Rising

Jordy Nelson
Randall Cobb
When we talk about the Packers being a tougher, more physical team, I think most of us probably mean that the defense needs to hit harder and the offensive line needs to start pushing people around to get the run game going. We probably don’t put wide receivers into the toughness equation, but we should. Both Nelson and Cobb are coming off injuries and absorbed some wicked hits on Sunday. The kept getting up for more. They completely sold out on every single play and did whatever they could possibly do to punch back at the 49ers defense — the big bully on the block. Cobb and Nelson might not play a position defined by toughness, but they both proved on Sunday that they’re two of the toughest players on the Packers roster.

Ryan Pickett
According to Pro Football Focus, Pickett has three stops on Sunday — solo tackles that resulted in an offensive failure. Frank Gore didn’t have the space he’s used to against the Packers and Big Grease is one of the reasons why. The soon-to-be 34 year old looked as good as he ever has, absorbing double teams, winning the battle when single-blocked, and causing chaos inside.

Steady

Tim Masthay
Ging matched all-world punter Andy Lee punt for punt and even took over kickoff duties. More importantly, Masthay is fearless! He made one tackle on a kick return and nearly had another. I wonder if he can play safety?

Mike Neal
I thought the Neal-as-outside linebacker experiment would be a massive failure, but so far, so good. He’s an anchor on the edge against the run and even got after Colin Kaepernick a few times in the pass rush. He’s nowhere near an adequate complement to Matthews yet, but if he keeps making progress, who knows…

1

September

Surviving Sunday: News, Notes and Analysis from Packers Preseason

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Well, Packers fans, since the 2013 NFL season starts next Sunday, this is the last Surviving Sunday of the year.

NFL football games that actually matter will be keeping us occupied for the next 20 weeks or so, and there won’t be a need for 800-word posts wrapping up the news of the week and mixing in my ramblings about pro wrestling, video games, concussions, the media or whatever other tangent I like to go off on.

As always, thanks for reading. Hopefully the next Surviving Sunday isn’t published until Feb. 9, 2014, the Sunday after the Packers win Super Bowl XLVIII.

Roster cuts
All of the Packers roster cuts are in and there were a few surprises: 1) Vince Young is gone. I thought his ability to run and at least have a chance to make a play every now and then would save him, but I thought wrong. Now who’s going to back up Aaron Rodgers? Your guess is as good as mine. 2. Tyrone Walker didn’t make the team. I suppose that’s not really too big of a surprise, but he had a nice camp and I liked what I saw. Alex Green getting cut wasn’t much of a surprise. Starks has more pop than Green and is just a better back. You can’t play the injury card on Starks when comparing the two, either, because Green has injury issues of his own.

Tramon is back
Tramon Williams returned in Thursday’s preseason finale and had an interception on the Chiefs’ first pass. I’m not worried at all about Williams’ pass coverage. Sure, he gets beat more often than he did in 2010, but the good far outweighs the bad when Williams drops back in coverage. What I need to see from Williams is toughness. The 49ers will look at film of the 2012 Packers this week, see Williams retreat when a run comes his way, and start licking their chops. Williams needs to be a tougher tackler this season. Plain and simple.

30

August

Packers News: Kickalicious works out for Green Bay

Havard Rugland was in Green Bay for a workout on Friday morning, according to his Twitter account.

Havard Rugland was in Green Bay for a workout on Friday morning, according to his Twitter account.

According to Havard Rugland’s official Twitter account, the Green Bay Packers worked out the YouTube sensation known as “Kickalicious” on Friday morning.

Rugland spent the summer as a member of the Detroit Lions, but he was cut after being beaten out by established veteran David Akers. Akers, 38, will fill in for 43-year-old Jason Hanson who recently retired after 21 seasons in the NFL.

The workout seems surprising, considering the team just restructured kicker Mason Crosby’s contract this week. After bringing in Giorgio Tavecchio and Zach Ramirez to challenge Crosby for the job, the Packers turned to financial motivation for their placekicker.

The team bringing Rugland in for a workout could mean trouble for Crosby, especially if the Packers ever have an opportunity to punt the ball through the uprights from 90 yards away. Or kick a ball to a dude standing in a boat on the Fox River.

In all likelihood, the Packers are likely seeing what else is on the free-agent market in case Crosby struggles to start the 2013 season. It’s highly unlikely that the team would replace Crosby after restructuring to an incentive-based deal Thursday.

Through four preseason games, Crosby was a perfect 6-for-6, including a long of 48 yards. After a thoroughly unimpressive Family Night scrimmage, Crosby separated himself from Tavecchio and Ramirez late in training camp.

For now, it would be a surprise if anyone not named Crosby was the kicker to start the season. But again, the Packers appear to be preparing themselves for a backup plan should Crosby falter early in the season.

In three preseason games with the Lions, Kickalicious was three-for-three on field goals with a long of 50 yards. He also converted both of his extra point attempts.

One additional interesting fact: Every NFL team is allowed to add one international player to their practice squad, as a ninth member. However, that international player can not be signed to an NFL contract with any team while on a practice squad. here are the full rules:

Section 1. Practice Squads:

  • (a) The League may elect in any League Year in accordance with this Article to establish Practice Squads not to exceed eight (8) players per Club. The League’s election in any one season shall not determine or affect its election in any subsequent season.
30

August

Jersey Al: My Initial Packers 53-man Roster Prediction

Ted Thompson looking for wide receivers

Wait, how many wide receivers am I keeping?

My Packers 53-man Roster Prediction

Quarterback (2): Rodgers, Young

There’s no doubt, I’d feel better about the Packers’ chances with Young at QB  over Harrell if Rodgers went down. Do doubt about it. So did the Packers. Coleman hasn’t made as big a jump as expected – back to the practice squad.  (Coleman to the PS)

Running Back (5): Lacy, Franklin, Green, Starks, Kuhn

This was going to be a tough one until Harris went down for the year. Now it’s pretty much a sure thing. I entertained the drop Kuhn thought for awhile myself, but it’s just not something I see Mccarthy wanting to do. With TE Mulligan hurt, that solidifies the need for Kuhn. (Amosa cut)

Wide Receiver (5): Nelson, Cobb, Jones, Boykin, Ross

At the beginning of camp, I was convinced the Packers would keep 6 here to compensate for losing Driver and Jennings, but Boykin has looked really good to me  and Ross is coming on as a receiver. Therefore, I’m comfortable with keeping five on the roster with two on the practice squad in case of injuries. (Johnson & Walker to PS, Myles White cut)

Tight End (5): Finley, Taylor, Mulligan, Bostick, Quarless

I almost had the Packers cutting Ryan Taylor, but his value on special teams is too great. WR convert Bostick has much more upside than Taylor, so the Packers keep him. They attempt to trade DJ Williams for a late round pick but end up cutting him. The fifth round selection has just never translated his college success to the NFL level.  I know I’m probably wrong about Williams, but there’s always a surprise, so this is mine. Stoneburner could probably stick on another team, but not in this TE group. (Williams cut or traded, Stoneburner cut)

Offensive Line (7): Bakhtiari, Sitton, EDS, Lang, Barclay, Newhouse, Van Roten,

This jumps out as the best combination of players to keep. Assuming the first five listed are the starters, there will be a backup tackle, and center/guard on the sidelines. If Barclay doesn’t start, he’s a two or three-position guy at the ready. Lane Taylor just misses out but is kept on the Practice Squad as C/G insurance. (Taylor to PS, Gerhart, Hughes, Lewis, Datko cut)

Defensive Line (7): Pickett, Raji, Jones, Wilson, Jolly, Daniels, Neal

29

August

Talking to Tavecchio: Interview with Giorgio on Being Cut by the Packers

Giorgio Tavecchio talks about being cut by the Packers

Giorgio Tavecchio talks about being cut by the Packers

Giorgio Tavecchio speaks to Italian reporter Giovanni Marino, writer/blogger at Republicca.it about being cut by the Packers and what the future holds for him. Once again, only at ALLGBP.com, we translate this for you into English (free of charge, of course). You can find the original interview in Italian here.

The Interview:

NFL, Giorgio Tavecchio and hope for the Packers still burns.

It’s over. Indeed. Maybe. But not quite. You are cut, you’re out. But they may call you. AT any moment. Or never.

It would surely drive you mad, if you were directly involved in listening to the chaotic swirl of words and ability related to making an NFL roster. It touches all who engage in the quest to be part of the select group  of super athletes who will compete in the National football league.

And that is exactly what Giorgio Tavecchio, the man from Milan, is experiencing is experiencing after five months of genuine competition with the incumbent kicker kicker of the Green Bay Packers, Mason Crosby. The Italian American did pretty well by showing a better overall percentage over Crosby, but in the end, the coaching staff chose the veteran.

Technically, Giorgio, was cut. But never like this with so many perplexities. And not just from the Packer fans, which Tavecchio conquered with his dedication, his respect for others, his skills and his desire to always improve, but also of the coach, which, in essence hinted not to exclude the possibility of Tavecchio returning. It depends at this point, only on the performance of Crosby. If Crosby’s play does not instill confidence in the coaching staff, Tavecchio could return to the team.

These are complicated  days for Tavecchio, it would be for anyone who pursues a dream destination, and sees the finish line without being able to cut through it. Giorgio, however, once again, does not hide, and as he had previously promised (“I will always be ready to share with my Italian supporters every step of my experience in this world”) he speaks to  ”Playbook” with his usual clarity and authenticity.

Giovanni:  Georgio, compared to your experience with the San Francisco 49ers, you did much better. In kicking percentages, you actually beat Crosby. Still you didn’t get it done. Make a self-criticism: where do you think you went wrong?

26

August

Packers News: Tavecchio released, team down to two kickers

Ciao, Giorgio. The Packers have cut ties with Tavecchio.

Ciao, Giorgio. The Packers have cut ties with Tavecchio.

Just one day after signing street free agent Zach Ramirez, the Green Bay Packers have released kicker Giorgio Tavecchio.

Incumbent kicker Mason Crosby has, again, had an up-and-down, left-and-right summer, and it seems the Packers are determined to provide some competition for Crosby all the way up to the regular season. Still, despite his inconsistency, it looks like the job is Crosby’s to lose.

Crosby certainly had a rough season in 2012, missing 12 of 33 regular-season field goal attempts. But believe it or not, his challenger this summer, Tavecchio, has missed kicks in his life, as well. As a senior at California, Tavecchio failed to connect on six extra points.

Now, it’s down to Crosby and Ramirez–another Internet-sensation-turned-NFL-kicker-hopeful. The Detroit Lions signed Havard “Kickalicious” Rugland to compete with David Akers this summer, and the Packers turn to Ramirez–a young kicker with some pretty impressive YouTube highlights.

Obviously, kicking field goals with the wind at your back in an empty stadium in front of one person holding a camera is much different than kicking in front of 80,000 in a packed NFL stadium. But we’ll see how this kicking competition shakes itself out.

During the Family Night Scrimmage, Tavecchio got the better of Crosby, connecting on five of six field goal attempts. Crosby, on the other hand, had an awful night, missing four of six.

At that point, just a week into training camp, Twitter exploded with fans calling for Crosby’s release. However, due to the Tavecchio’s limitations in terms of leg strength, the concept of Crosby being cut in favor of Tavecchio seemed farfetched–at least to me.

I’m not saying Crosby is God’s gift to kicking field goals, but if he’s going to be beaten out for the job, it wasn’t going to be by Tavecchio. You can’t make fun of me for that prediction; however, feel free to point and laugh at my suggestion that Graham Harrell would be a “pleasant surprise” this summer.

In my opinion, Crosby will win the job. He’ll be the Week 1 kicker, although it wouldn’t at all be surprising if the Packers made a change in the regular season, should Crosby’s struggles continue.