In his first six seasons as head coach, Mike McCarthy has never presided over a Packers training camp that didn’t have at least some uncertainty at one of the three main specialist positions. That won’t be the case this year.
Crosby begins his sixth season in his prime, having topped the 80-percent mark on field goals for the first time in his career in 2011. His 85.7 percent efficiency (24 of 28) included franchise-record boots of 56 and 58 yards in a span of three weeks.
The strong-legged Crosby also took advantage of kickoffs being moved forward 5 yards last season by booming 49 touchbacks, good for third in the league.
Masthay, meanwhile, built on a strong finish to 2010 – his first full season in the NFL – with an even better 2011. Punting just 55 times all season, thanks to Green Bay’s prolific offense, Masthay set franchise records for gross average (45.6 yards) and net average (38.6), the latter a stat kept only since 1976.
Perhaps more impressive, Masthay put 23 of those 55 punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line. A repeat of that proficiency could gain more recognition should Green Bay’s defense improve as much as the Packers expect.
In Cobb, the Packers have the most dynamic return man they’ve had in McCarthy’s tenure. Cobb burst onto the scene with a record-setting 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in his first NFL game, and he added a punt return for a score later in the season. No Packers rookie had ever performed that double feature.
The only stains on Cobb’s first season were three fumbles, but he elevated the Packers return games from 26th (kickoffs) and 22nd (punts) in 2010 to 12th in both categories last year.
Of the Packers’ top six tacklers on special teams in 2011, cornerback Pat Lee (12 tackles) is gone and linebacker
That said, veteran