Packers coach sticks with struggling kicker

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Mason Crosby has given the Packers plenty of reasons to at least explore the free-agent market for kickers, but coach Mike McCarthy has no interest in doing so.

“Mason Crosby is my kicker, so we can just stop it right there,” McCarthy said at his Monday afternoon press conference.

In Green Bay’s 24-20 win Sunday in Detroit over the Lions, Crosby had arguably his worst performance in his six-year NFL career. In the final play of the first half, Crosby missed twice from 50 yards out. His first attempt — which he sent wide right — didn’t count due to Lions head coach Jim Schwartz calling a timeout a split-second before the snap. Following the timeout, Crosby overcompensated and kicked it wide left.

In the fourth quarter, with the Packers looking to tie the game at 17, Crosby missed a 38-yarder. As the ball traveled in the air on that kick, Crosby held his arms up in the air as if to signal it being good, but it again hooked left.

“We have history together and I believe in him,” McCarthy said. “I don’t think you really need to go past that. He has a job to do. He’s not doing it. He recognizes it. I recognize it and he’ll work through it. I know he can do it. It’s not that. I’m not worried about asking a player to do something he can’t do. That’s not the case.”

A telling moment during the game, however, came midway through the first quarter when it was still 0-0. Green Bay had an opportunity to try a 49-yard field goal to take an early lead, but McCarthy instead opted to try a deep pass down the middle on fourth-and-4, which fell incomplete.

“You want to play a specific game and we were looking for a fourth-down conversion,” McCarthy said. “At that point of the game, with the week of preparation, I wanted to be aggressive to start the game.”

Crosby did connect on a 39-yard attempt in the final minute of the game to push the Packers’ lead up to four points. But even with that, Crosby has only made six of his last 13 field goals.

“I think changing players is the easy thing to do,” special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum said. “That’s the easiest thing to do, is to go get someone else. But it’s not always the best thing to do. We try to weigh every bit of information that we can and try to make the best decision top to bottom on what we do.”

There are a few free-agent kickers available, including 30-year-old former San Diego Charger Nate Kaeding, who has made 87 percent of his field goals throughout his nine-year career. Crosby, by comparison, is a 77.6 percent career kicker. Kaeding, a third-round pick in 2004, was released by the Chargers three weeks ago. Also, former Bengals, Cardinals and Texans kicker Neil Rackers — at 36 years old — and former Packers and Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell, 38, are both available.

“You take everything into consideration,” Slocum said. “We have the confidence that (Crosby) can make kicks. He hasn’t lately as he should, and he needs to for us to move forward and be as good as we can be as a football team.

“Mason’s our kicker.”

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