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For veteran Greg Joseph, Packers kicking competition is 'me vs. me'

Minnesota’s kicker the past three seasons looking to land a new job

K Greg Joseph
K Greg Joseph

GREEN BAY – The Packers' three-way kicking competition got cranked up a bit this week.

During Tuesday's OTA practice open to the media, the coaches had all three kickers – Anders Carlson, Greg Josephand Jack Podlesny – attempting monster field goals of 55-plus at the end of two-minute drills.

Then they tried another round of long kicks with all their teammates gathered tightly around, hollering and splashing water on the snapper, holder and kicker to make for the most distracting situation possible.

On this particular day, Carlson performed the best of the three. But ask around as to how it went for everyone, and one guy who won't have an answer for you is Joseph. The veteran, who has kicked for the Vikings the past three seasons and is now trying to unseat Carlson, doesn't pay attention to how anyone else is doing. He is solely and strictly focused on himself.

That's the approach he used to win the Minnesota job back in 2021, and he's deploying it again to try to take the next step in his career.

"That's where I really learned to focus on me," Joseph said. "Some guys might thrive off watching other people kick. I thrive in being in my own world because that's where I really learn it's me vs. me and focus on what I do and to get better on what I do each and every day, because that's the only thing I can control."

The competition is far from over, and likely will continue all the way through training camp and the preseason. It might get whittled down to two kickers before training camp begins, but nobody is revealing anything right now.

In the on-paper comparisons, Joseph's calling card is experience. He's kicked in 67 NFL games for three different teams, and he's appeared in four postseason games as well, including the AFC title game for the Tennessee Titans when he was a late-season injury replacement for Ryan Succop in 2019.

He got his first real opportunity with Cleveland in 2018, when he was signed two weeks into the season to replace a struggling Zane Gonzalez. In his third game for the Browns, he hit an overtime game-winner and held the job the rest of the year, missing three field goals (all from 40-plus) and four extra points.

He was replaced by rookie Austin Siebert the next year, had the late-season stint in Tennessee in '19, and then spent 2020 on Tampa Bay's practice squad.

The three-year run in Minnesota began auspiciously in 2021, as he missed a game-winner at Arizona in Week 2, but later that year he made two others, including one against the Packers in a 34-31 Vikings triumph. His 2022 was highlighted by a game-winner in London to cap a five-FG day, another to cap Minnesota's record comeback from a 33-point deficit vs. Indianapolis in December, and yet another the following week, a 61-yarder for a Vikings franchise record.

"That was a fun one, for sure," he said. "Just taking in, cherishing every team win, every moment, every opportunity you get like that … they're all fun and all fond memories I'll hold forever."

After a nondescript 2023 that included both a miss and a block kick at Lambeau Field during a tough midseason stretch – five of his six missed field goals and his only two missed PATs last season occurred between mid-October and mid-November – the Vikings decided to move on. They drafted Will Reichard out of Alabama in the sixth round as the first kicker taken. By then, Joseph already had signed with the Packers to enter the fray with Carlson and Podlesny.

For his career, Joseph has made 82.6% of his field goals (100-of-121) and 90.1% of his PATs (146-of-162). If there's any statistical quirk, it's that he's missed only one field goal in 63 tries in his career from inside 40 yards (that last-second kick in Arizona in '21) but he's missed those 16 extra points, which are 33 yards out.

Speaking of quirks, he's currently wearing No. 2 with the Packers, the jersey number worn for 16 years by Mason Crosby, the franchise's all-time leading scorer. He was just assigned it and thinks nothing of it beyond that, though he did reach out to Crosby to let him know and suggested he might get another number if he wins the job.

That is, and will be, the only thing on his mind as the summer progresses, which likely will see him off to the side, taking warmup steps and visualizing his own kicks rather than watching anytime it's Carlson's or Podlesny's turn in practice.

"I have nothing bad to say about any of them. All good guys," he said. "The group all gets along great. We all learn from each other, push each other, et cetera.

"I just decide to stay in my own little world because that's what I feel do best in a competition is just worrying about me. I don't know how they're doing. I only know how Greg Joseph is doing, and I'm going to keep it that way."

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