GREEN BAY—After what he endured in 2012, Mason Crosby didn’t need the Packers to bring in another kicker to sharpen his focus or get him dialed in for 2013.
But as long as competition at his position is present, Crosby plans to use it for any benefits it may provide along those lines.
“For me, it’s good to see that guy next to you,” Crosby said, referring to Giorgio Tavecchio, the first kicker with whom Crosby will have to compete head-to-head for a job since his rookie season of 2007.
“It definitely puts a little added competitive juice in there. I feel like it’s been good for me. I’ve been hitting the ball well and competing, and from top to bottom on this team, that’s how we excel and how we get better.”
Crosby has no choice but to embrace the competition, but he probably wouldn’t have felt any different about it had a young prospect like Tavecchio been brought in a year ago, when Crosby was coming off his best season.
The veteran kicker remains as confident in his abilities now as then, when he converted a career-best 86 percent of his field goals (24 of 28) in 2011, including a franchise-record 58-yarder.
Following his rough 2012, low-lighted by 12 missed field goals in a span of 10 games, Crosby went through the same process this past offseason that he always does. He evaluated the film, studied what went right and what went wrong, and came back for workouts and OTAs ready to build on the positives and eliminate the negatives.
If that sounds trite and cliché, chalk it up to the nature of a specialist’s preparation for a job that’s equal parts mental and mechanical.
Despite all of last season’s struggles, which began with two long misses in the second half of a three-point loss at Indianapolis in Week 5, Crosby maintains that mentally there was no crisis of confidence. Mechanically, he wouldn’t specify whether he made any discoveries during the offseason, but if he did, no good would come from talking about them anyway.
Instead, Crosby -- whose wife gave birth to the couple's second child last week -- is focused on his process. It’s what got him through last season, and it’s what will help him keep his job in 2013, which given his experience he is more than likely to do.
“I kept working hard, I kept my head down, kept striving to be the best I could be out there, and at the end of the season I came out of the funk, if you want to call it (that),” Crosby said.
“I felt good with how I just kept working. This organization sticking behind me kept building that confidence. For me, I never lost it. I never lost it in my head. I kept going out every day, trying to do the things I know best, work on those details, and I finished the season how I wanted to.”
The strong finish featured a 6-for-6 streak over the final four games (two regular season, two playoffs), including two clutch efforts – a 40-yarder early in the fourth quarter to tie the score at 27 at Minnesota in the regular-season finale, and a 31-yarder midway through the third quarter to tie San Francisco at 24 in the divisional playoff.
“I made some kicks down the stretch I needed to make, and I draw off of that,” he said. “I was able to figure it out through that rough time and come out of it.”
That, no disrespect to Tavecchio, will matter more for Crosby going forward than the upcoming competition in training camp that is sure to get plenty of attention.
The scrutiny of Crosby was bound to be heightened either way, and he sounds ready for it.
“Especially this offseason, practice, weight room, everything I’m doing, I’m focused in on being sharp, being in that moment and taking advantage of that opportunity,” he said. “I think it’s going to carry me a long way.”