Bay Packers Mason Crosby kicks a field goal during the game
against the Detroit Lions at the Lambeau Field in Green Bay
Wis., Friday, October 07, 2013.
GREEN BAY —
From being on unsure footing to returning to the top of his game,
Mason Crosby has had quite the ride this season with the Packers.
are no longer a fingernail-biting, roller-coaster ride in Green
Bay. That was so 2012.
selected the NFL special teams player of the month this week after
leading the league with 50 points and 13 field goals in October,
when the Packers went 4-0. He's s a reliable option again heading
into the divisional showdown Monday night against the Chicago
"I think it
says something about his resolve, his work ethic — about his
ability to overcome adversity," special teams coordinator
Shawn Slocum said Friday when asked about the accolades for the
Times were tough
after Crosby made just 21 of 33 field-goal attempts last season
for a league-worst 63.6 percent success rate. Coach Mike McCarthy
brought in Giorgio Tavecchio and rookie Zach Ramirez during
training camp — bringing in Ramirez in the last week of camp —
but Crosby outlasted them both.
Now, he's 17 of
19 for an 89.5 percent success rate. Crosby was 13 of 15 in
October, with his two misses coming from 44 and 52 yards.
this week that once Crosby won the job out of camp, he had no
concerns. There's a history with Crosby, McCarthy said.
through a tough spot. I believed in the man, I believed in his
ability," McCarthy said. "It was more of a mental tough
spot that he was going through. I think what we put him through
from a competitive standpoint in training camp I think it's good
for all of us. And he responded."
Crosby has been saving drives with the offense sputtering at times
in or near the red zone. Crosby is 10 of 10 from inside the 40.
seem to be any big differences in terms of preparation or
mechanics. The focus midweek is on getting "quality
reps," he said, and trying not to over-kick. Too many
practice kicks might lead to fatigue.
sure my mindset is, in practice, that I need to make these kicks,
focused in on almost trying to put myself in (game) situations. I
think that's really been helpful," Crosby said.
kicking race in the preseason may have given him an edge, too. He
said "that competition in camp and different things have
really taken me to a different level, and I feel solid."
And he's just
enjoying the job. Success breeds confidence. Slocum said Crosby
"is in a good place with his rhythm and mechanics."
success is more fun, and just leave it at that," Slocum said.
of late on special teams has been kickoff return coverage.
Cordarrelle Patterson had a 109-yard kickoff return for a
touchdown last week for the Vikings during Green Bay's 44-31 win.
The Browns returned four kicks for 189 yards two weeks ago, while
the Browns had four returns for 102 yards on Oct. 13.
Injuries may be
partly to blame for the spotty coverage. There's a trickle-down
effect to special teams, when players formerly second- or third-teamers
are thrust into more prominent roles on offense or defense. They
might be replaced on coverage teams with new signees or additions
off the practice squad.
Packers are starting to get players healthy. This week, inside
linebacker Brad Jones has been a full participant after missing a
few weeks with a hamstring injury. McCarthy is also optimistic
about the chances of tight end Ryan Taylor playing Sunday after
missing a few weeks with a knee injury.
Just in time with
Bears returner Devin Hester, who excels at scoring touchdowns, up
receiver James Jones (knee) practiced in pads on a limited basis.
Jones, who has missed the last two games, will be re-evaluated
Packers WR Jones questionable for
GREEN BAY, Wis. — The last time James Jones and the Green
Bay Packers played their oldest rivals, he caught three
touchdown passes in the Packers' 21-13 win over the Bears in
Chicago last December.
With the Bears coming to Lambeau Field, the timing might be
right for the Packers to get a key piece back on their
Jones, the team's veteran receiver who has missed the last two
games with a knee injury, practiced again Saturday and has been
listed as questionable for the Monday night game against the
"He did a little more than yesterday, so we'll see where he is,"
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after practice.
Jones had limited work on the field as the Packers wrapped up
their preparations for the NFC North matchup, and McCarthy
wouldn't speculate on whether Jones will play.
"Frankly, it's up in the air, but he's doing everything he can,"
Jones wasn't any more revealing when he spoke to reporters
Saturday. He put his chances of playing at 50/50.
"We'll see how my knee reacts coming in tomorrow, (hopefully)
get no swelling or anything like that," Jones said.
Jones admitted having Chicago next on the schedule in a
prime-time game is an incentive to resume playing.
"It is Monday night, it is the Bears, so it'll put a little
extra on it," Jones said. "I felt better (today). I'm mostly
just going to see how it reacts tomorrow. If it reacts pretty
good tomorrow, we might have a decent shot. But if I wake up
sore and all that stuff, I don't know."
NFC North-leading Green Bay (5-2), which has won four straight
games, will continue to be without receiver Randall Cobb (leg)
and tight end Jermichael Finley (neck) for an extended period.
The possibility of having Jones in uniform again Monday had
fellow starting receiver Jordy Nelson excited Saturday.
"To get him back out there, it's another playmaker, another
veteran back," Nelson said. "The young guys have done a good job
of filling in for now, but you want James back in there. He had
(a league-high) 14 touchdowns last year. He's a threat every
time he gets the ball and every time he runs a route, so it's
good to have him back."
The Packers defense, which will be without outside linebacker
Clay Matthews (thumb) for at least one more game, is expected to
have inside linebacker Brad Jones available to play Monday.
Jones has missed the last three games with a hamstring injury.
He had full status in practice the past three days and is
probable for the game.
Defensive coordinator Dom Capers suggested the team would be
careful about how much Jones plays.
"We'll work Brad in, we've got to monitor his reps, make sure we
don't overwork him his first game back, but I know he's excited
to get out there and play," Capers said.
Jamari Lattimore, a young player who has been productive as the
starting replacement for Jones with two sacks in three games,
remains in the team's plans for contributing on defense.
"You'll see Jamari at times because he's certainly played well
enough to warrant getting some time," Capers said.
Outside linebacker Nick Perry (foot) didn't practice this week
and is doubtful.
Cornerback Sam Shields (toes), added to the injury report,
didn't practice Saturday but is probable for the game.
"He got stepped on (in practice) yesterday — you get one of
those small corners getting stepped on by an offensive lineman,"
Capers said. "I think he was just sore today, but I think he'll