GREEN BAY – Family Night was not good for the Packers’ field-goal operation, and Week 1 of the preseason will be about cleaning it up.
Veteran kicker Mason Crosby missed six of 11 field-goal tries on Saturday night, all from long but makeable distances.
The struggles seemingly came out of nowhere, as Crosby – working with two rookies in snapper Derek Hart and punter/holder Justin Vogel – had made 22 of 23 attempts in live periods through the first week of training camp.
Crosby suggested the issues that cropped up on Saturday night weren’t necessarily new, though, but ones the trio had “gotten away with” in prior practices. Without revealing too many specifics, Crosby mentioned placement of the laces and overall timing were off, and then things “snowballed.”
“It got out of sync there on Saturday night,” Crosby said. “Unfortunately it’s there in the stadium and everyone weighs it a little heavier, but ultimately for me, for my preparation, it’s just another practice.
“I look at those reps as something to learn from and move on. We talked about that today – if we don’t improve off of this and use it as a tool to get better, then it’s a loss.”
Family Night was the first NFL outing in front of a big crowd for Hart and Vogel, two undrafted rookies trying to make a pro roster. Despite no direct head-to-head competition in camp, their spots are by no means secure, regardless of the field-goal issues on Saturday night.
How they respond with the pressure and scrutiny cranked up a bit will be watched closely. Tuesday’s practice will feature another live field-goal period, and then Thursday’s preseason opener will be back in Lambeau Field under the lights in front of a full house.
For Crosby’s sake, the veteran kicker said “I just have to trust and go,” and not get distracted by the details, or the situation in general. He was blessed with the same snapper-holder combination of Brett Goode and Tim Masthay for six straight years (2010-15) before a change at holder with punter Jake Schum last season.
That transition went smoothly, but this is a much larger adjustment.
“We don’t have a lot of time before we play a game, so we have to be sharp, and we all have to be better than that,” Crosby said. “Regardless of where the laces are and what not, I have to try to knock it through.”
Still waiting: Rookie outside linebacker Vince Biegel, a fourth-round draft pick out of Wisconsin, is still waiting for medical clearance to practice after offseason foot surgery.
Biegel participated in the Packers’ rookie orientation in early May, one week after the draft, but had the surgery shortly thereafter. He’s been in all the meetings and doing everything off the field with the rest of the team, but come practice time he goes into rehab mode.
“I’m definitely not a patient person at heart, but I’ve grown a lot from this experience,” said Biegel, who did not provide a timetable for his potential return. “I’ve been able to attack other things in my game.
“I’ve been able to learn from guys like Clay (Matthews), keep my nose in the playbook, and watch a lot of film, so when I step on the field there’s no hiccups. I can understand my responsibility and go fly around out there.”
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