Crosby Will Compete With Rayner


The Packers have brought in some competition for Dave Rayner for the kicking job.

The third of Green Bay's three straight sixth-round picks on Sunday, at 193rd overall, was Colorado kicker Mason Crosby, whose strong leg prompted the Buffaloes to never hesitate to try a long field goal.

But it's not just his leg strength the Packers like. Special teams coordinator Mike Stock likes the fundamentals and footwork he sees with Crosby, and he feels he has the mental makeup to be a productive pro kicker.

"I noticed when he had something happen, when he missed a kick, or didn't kick it quite the way he wanted to have it, he came back, rebounded," Stock said. "I like the way he reacts to some adversity he faced."

Crosby didn't have much adversity early in his college career. As a sophomore in 2004, he kicked the longest field goal in the nation with a 60-yarder against Iowa State and made six field goals total from 50-plus.

Then as a junior, Crosby was runner-up for the Lou Groza Award as the nation's top kicker when he made 21 of 28 field goals, averaging 41 yards per made kick. That included a 58-yarder at Miami, the longest ever at sea level without a kicking tee in NCAA Division I-A history.

His senior year wasn't as strong, however, as Crosby made just 19 of 28 field goals, though he was 17 of 19 from inside 50 yards. He narrowly missed a 65-yard attempt against Iowa State, but he continued his high touchback rate on kickoffs, finishing his career with 137 in 200 kickoffs.

The misses his senior year, combined with the fact that he kicked in the high mountain altitude, may have caused him to drop from a projected first-day pick to the sixth round. But Crosby's confidence is by no means shaken, and kicks like the one at Miami proved his success wasn't all because of Colorado's thin air.

"I'm always prepared to test my leg and see how far back I could go," Crosby said. "I think I can hit it the same in any area.

"There were a lot of long attempts, and they just didn't go through this year. I've proven I can kick the long ones and I'm accurate from there, and that's what I plan on continuing on."

Crosby said he was good from as far as 71 yards before one game. He knows he'll have to adjust to the kicking conditions at Green Bay's Lambeau Field, but the cold weather and swirling winds won't intimidate him.

"Obviously watching games and just knowing about it, I think it's going to be a fun challenge," he said. "The cold weather, the different conditions. I've played a lot of different places. I've practiced and kicked in games up in Colorado that have been horrible weather-wise. I think it's going to be one of those things to get used to it and adapt, and that's what I plan on doing.

"I look forward to playing in such a great place like Lambeau Field. The fans and the great tradition that comes with the Green Bay Packers is an amazing thing for me."

Rayner isn't going to just give up the job he earned last year, though. He hit 26 of 35 field goals and had 11 touchbacks, solid numbers for his first year as a full-time NFL kicker but ones he and his coach both know he can improve upon.

"I think the most important thing is for this football team to get better in every area, and the idea is to promote competition at every position," Stock said. "That's part of the deal."

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