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Notebook: Crosby Looking To Bounce Back

On Monday, Head Coach Mike McCarthy voiced his support for kicker Mason Crosby, who is coming off his toughest stretch of games during his three seasons in Green Bay. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Dec. 23

On Monday, Head Coach Mike McCarthy voiced his support for kicker Mason Crosby, who is coming off his toughest stretch of games during his three seasons in Green Bay.

McCarthy wasn't vague in his comments, saying that Crosby was the Packers' kicker, he will be so moving forward, and that he had "zero interest" in bringing in another kicker.

"It feels good," Crosby said. "It's a great opportunity for me. I've got to learn from this and I've got to move on. I've had a few struggles here and it's just not who I am. It's not what I am about.

"I have faith in myself. I'm confident, and Coach is confident in me and that really feels good that this organization is standing by me. I have to do my job. I have to go out and perform so it is the right thing."

Sunday's game in Pittsburgh was Crosby's fourth straight game that he missed a field goal from 43 yards or in. He pushed his lone attempt of the day, a 34-yarder, wide right early in the second quarter with the Packers trailing 14-7 in a game they ended up losing, 37-36.

It was the third straight contest that Crosby's miss came at a crucial point in the game. In Week 14 at Chicago, the Packers held a 21-14 lead with just over six minutes remaining when they brought Crosby on for a 42-yard kick to give them a 10-point cushion, but his kick sailed wide right. The Packers did hang on for the seven-point win.

Against Baltimore at Lambeau Field in Week 13, the Packers saw their 17-0 halftime lead trimmed to just three points early in the fourth quarter. That is when Crosby had a 38-yard attempt to push the lead to six, but his attempt sailed wide right. He also missed a 43-yarder the previous week at Detroit after the Packers had moved the ball 64 yards on their opening drive. All four of his recent misses were from the right hashmark and sailed wide right.

"It's just been one of those things," Crosby said. "We work on it and I've just got to finish through the target. It's one where unfortunately a few have them have just drifted right. Early in the year they weren't doing that. I am just cleaning it up, working on that occasionally, but I'm just doing some drill work. I'm not thinking, 'OK, right hash is a problem right now.'

"I'm just going to work on drills. I'm going to hit some balls from the middle of the field, all over the place, and just make sure that I am making kicks. I am seeing them going through. Every day you've got to work on some things to build the confidence and keep moving."

A 79.5 percent kicker in his first two years, Crosby was close to that pace once again as he connected on 18-of-23 kicks (78.3 percent) in the first 10 games, with his five misses coming from distances of 49, 55, 55, 51 and 52 yards.

From 2007-08, he missed just four kicks from 43 yards or in on his way to scoring 268 points, the most in NFL history by any player in his first two seasons. It is that kind of success that Crosby said he leaned on this week.

"I just kind of went back and unwound these last couple of days," Crosby said. "I just kind of cleared my head and got back to remembering what it is all about to make those kicks, and stay positive. A lot of it is just technique and fundamentals, making sure I detail that stuff. There is not a ton wrong there. It's not like I am overhauling anything. It's more just look at the few minor things and make sure those mistakes don't come up in those crucial times.

"We clean them up in practice and build to the games. It's one of those that I am really not overreacting. I cleared my head, found that confidence, found what I am all about and make sure I go out there, and I want to enjoy it. I want to perform and kick, and make kicks because that is my job and I have loved doing it for a long time."

Sunday's game against Seattle will be only Crosby's second one with his new holder, punter Jeremy Kapinos. Backup quarterback Matt Flynn had handled those duties for the first 13 games, but the Packers made the change because of Crosby's comfort level with Kapinos, who has more time to work with him during practice than Flynn does with his offensive responsibilities.

"He has been doing a good job," Crosby said. "It's been good seeing him hold all of these last couple of weeks. Throughout the season I just throw him some balls, so it's one of those just seeing reps like that, just seeing him consistently get his hands on the ball and getting it on the spot.

"It's been good. We get a lot of work with (long snapper) Brett (Goode), him and I. We went out in the stadium here and hit a few good balls, and I'm looking forward to getting in a game because that rhythm, just as many reps as you possibly get, just helps us improve."

Improvement is Crosby's focus for the final two games and beyond, and include McCarthy as one who believes that will happen.

"What I have said privately to Mason is not a whole lot different than what I have said here in front of this microphone," McCarthy said. "He is a talented kicker. He has kicked at a high level. I expect him to have a long career here in Green Bay and we're giving him the resources and the opportunity to do that.

"He needs to pull through, because he can, and I fully believe that he will."

Leading the way

Cornerback Charles Woodson was the leading vote-getter at his position in the NFC in the Pro Bowl fan voting that ended on Monday.

Woodson, who is tied for second in the NFL with eight interceptions this season, finished with 360,042 votes cast on and on wireless phones. Woodson also has two sacks this season, making him only the eighth player since sacks became an official statistic in 1982 to post eight interceptions and two sacks in the same season.

{sportsad300}Woodson has been named to the Pro Bowl five times in his career, earning the honor his first four seasons with the Oakland Raiders (1999-2002) and last season with the Packers.

The Pro Bowl, which will be played on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010, in South Florida, is based on the consensus votes of fans, players and coaches. Each group's vote counts one-third toward determining the 43-man rosters that represent the NFC and AFC.

The Pro Bowl teams will be announced on Tuesday, Dec. 29.

Outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who leads the Packers with a team rookie-record 10 sacks, finished third in Pro Bowl voting among all NFL rookies with 195,110 votes. Only Vikings wide receiver/kick returner Percy Harvin (408,278) and Ravens tackle Michael Oher (206,552) received more votes.

Matthews currently ranks second among all rookies in sacks, trailing only Washington's Brian Orakpo (11).

Injury/participation update

Linebacker Jeremy Thompson, who has missed the last three games due to a neck injury, is out again for Sunday.

Linebacker Nick Barnett (knee), defensive end Johnny Jolly (knee), nose tackle Ryan Pickett (hamstring) and Woodson (shoulder) did not participate on Wednesday.

Pickett returned to action on Sunday in Pittsburgh after missing the Chicago game the previous week with the hamstring injury, but McCarthy said the veteran took a "step backwards" on Sunday.

"The plan was just for him to play in the one personnel group, and we were only in it five times," McCarthy said. "That actually worked out well. I was hoping for him to play just in that one personnel and as a backup, and the least number of reps the better we felt for Ryan. But he's feeling it, and we're going to take a little more cautious approach this time."

Safety Nick Collins (calf) and defensive end Cullen Jenkins (quadriceps) were limited participants.

McCarthy said Collins sustained the injury during Sunday's game and that the calf swelled up on him on Tuesday. McCarthy said that they would likely have to take the full week before determining Collins' status for Sunday's game, and that Derrick Martin would start in his place if he cannot play.

Cornerback Brandon Underwood, who was sidelined on Sunday due to a hip injury sustained in the previous game at Chicago, practiced fully for the first time since the injury.

For Seattle, wide receiver Nate Burleson (ankle), linebacker Aaron Curry (shoulder) and running back Julius Jones (rib) did not participate in Wednesday's practice. Wide receiver Ben Obomanu (hamstring) was a limited participant.

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