GREEN BAY – Mason Crosby, at age 37, is much a different kicker than the 22-year-old All-American the Packers drafted in the sixth round out of Colorado in 2007.
The more years Crosby adds to his resume, the smarter he gets about his training, understanding more doesn't always mean better when it comes to offseason preparation.
A detailed nutrition plan and thoughtful approach to weightlifting have allowed Green Bay's all-time leading scorer to stand the test of time by a wide margin. His 241 consecutive regular-season games played represents the longest active streak in the NFL by nearly six full seasons.
Only one Packers player (Brett Favre) has played more games (255) than Crosby. Only one NFL kicker (Morten Anderson) has played in more consecutive games (248).
This year, the 6-foot-1, 207-pound kicker looks to become just the fourth player in Green Bay history to play 16 seasons – joining teammate Aaron Rodgers, Favre, Bart Starr and the great Ray Nitschke.
Crosby hasn't gotten here by accident. There's been a lot of time, thought and inquiries invested into his process.
"I've talked to guys like Matt Bryant and Adam Vinatieri," Crosby said. "Just off-the-cuff conversations, asking how they do it. It's just being very disciplined on your wellness and the nutrition side of things and, obviously, with the weight room stuff. Don't lax on trying to stay in shape and keep pushing it with these guys."
Vinatieri and Bryant were two shining examples of longevity. Bryant played 18 years before hanging up the cleats in 2019, while Vinatieri's Hall of Fame run lasted 24 seasons. He retired last year as the NFL's all-time leading scorer with 2,673 points.
Crosby is in a league of his own in terms of durability. Only one active kicker (Baltimore's Justin Tucker) is even within 100 games of Crosby's consecutive games played streak.
Crosby has endured all the highs and lows that come with being an NFL kicker to put himself in that rarefied air. He responded from a tumultuous 2012 season with a career-best campaign and later became the first Packers kicker to go an entire season without missing a field-goal attempt in 2020.
He's looking for another bounce back this season after making just 73.5% of his field goals following in-season changes at both holder (JK Scott to Corey Bojorquez) and long snapper (Hunter Bradley to Steven Wirtel).
Prior to Week 5 in Cincinnati, Crosby had set the franchise record with 25 consecutive field goals made.
"We started really great and then we just kind of hit a little rough patch there, then switched operation with snappers," Crosby said. "It was a trying year for sure, but I thought the last like five, six games were pretty solid. We started kind of getting in a groove and obviously disappointed not to hit the one there in the playoffs, but I thought we really worked through some stuff and coming into this offseason."
The Packers brought back Wirtel but made a slew of other changes on special teams. Rich Bisaccia was hired as coordinator, while longtime Chicago punter Pat O'Donnell was signed to hold for Crosby on field goals this season.
Crosby and O'Donnell hit it off immediately, with O'Donnell and his family living with the Crosbys during the first three weeks of the offseason program while they searched for a home.
Crosby and O'Donnell had fun with the arrangement, even filming a video for social media spoofing the movie "Step Brothers." Crosby has appreciated the "new energy" O'Donnell has infused into the building.
"Having him live in my basement for a couple weeks and just getting to know him, I think relationally, that really kind of got us off on a good start, where we learned each other's personalities and how we operate together," Crosby said. "For me, it's just as important as having it exactly right all the time because we can talk and trust each other and make sure that it's right whenever that time comes that we need it."
Crosby had a good day on Tuesday. He navigated powerful wind gusts to make all six of his field-goal tries, including 49- and 56-yard attempts during a two-minute period.
The veteran is facing competition for the kicking job this summer in the form of 25-year-old Dominik Eberle, who played for Bisaccia with the Las Vegas Raiders in 2020.
Crosby has enjoyed working with the accomplished coordinator over the past month and believes the high level of expectations Bisaccia sets for his unit will generate positive results.
"I love just the clear-cut 'this is what's expected.' That's how I operate," Crosby said. "There's no gray area there. It's just like, 'Oh, that was OK.' It's like there's a high expectation and you can feel it in our meetings already, just guys needing to know exactly what they're doing at a high level and be responsible for that."
As much as things have changed, Crosby's process remains very much the same. He looks at his career in five-year blocks, with this 2022 representing a new phase. In Year 16, his goals remain set on stacking those five-year increments together.
If his history of durability holds, Crosby would be in position to break Favre's franchise record for consecutive games played when the Packers travel to face Miami on Christmas Day.
"It's always just trying to be really fully invested in that process," Crosby said. "I've been on so many different teams, in a sense, where you've got a lot of turnover, you've got these new young guys coming in and all these different feels that you get. Just trying to reset each season and plug away."