Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby needs to play well in the preseason opener.
But Crosby faces competition from Sam Ficken this summer, and he enters an important preseason opener against the Houston Texans on Thursday night.
Crosby may have the experience, but the Packers aren’t afraid to make bold decisions. They released former Pro Bowl defensive tackle Mike Daniels the day before training camp. GM Brian Gutekunst also made tough decisions to move on from Clay Matthews and Jordy Nelson over the past two offseasons.
The Packers have named Crosby a special teams captain for Thursday’s game, but more important is his performance on the field.
Crosby missed the start of training camp due to a calf injury, but returned on Sunday. Both Crosby and Ficken made five kicks each during Monday’s practice, but the advantage went to Ficken, according to Matt Schneidman of The Athletic:
And according to Ryan Wood of PackersNews.com, Ficken ended the Family Night Scrimmage last Friday with three field goals over 50 yards. One of them was from 63 yards.
It’s one thing to kick well in a practice situation, however. Crosby has made kicks at crucial times in the past, while Ficken has been inconsistent in his few regular season appearances.
But that far from guarantees Crosby the job. If he is outperformed over the next four weeks by Ficken, the Packers could enter the season with a new kicker.
Would it be a surprise? Of course, but this isn’t Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy’s Packers. Brian Gutekunst and Matt LaFleur have replaced a number of veterans. And they brought in Ficken for a reason.
Crosby should be considered the favorite to win the job, but it’s an important preseason for him.