GREEN BAY — Clearly the Green Bay Packers don’t think their veteran kicker is at the root of their ongoing field goal issues.
So even though Mason Crosby missed his eighth field goal of the season (including two blocked kicks) during the Packers’ 34-31 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday in Minneapolis, coach Matt LaFleur said Monday that the team has given no thought to changing kickers.
“I would say absolutely none,” LaFleur said.
The Packers changed out both their holder (replacing punter JK Scott with Corey Bojorquez at the end of training camp) and their long-snapper (replacing Hunter Bradley with Steven Wirtel earlier this month), and that has led to inconsistency in the operation on placekicks. Although Crosby hit a 54-yard field goal on the Packers’ opening possession against the Vikings, he was wide left from 32 yards out later in the game and is now 15 of 23 on the season. The eight misses are the most he’s had since going 21-for-33 during his disastrous 2012 season.
“We’re still working through that whole process. (The blame) never falls squarely on one individual,” LaFleur said. “Our operation has got to improve. That’s from the snap to the hold to the kick. We’ll continue to work on that. But certainly, (we) have a lot of confidence in Mason. We never would have sent him out there if we didn’t, on a 54-yarder, and he came through.
“I just think that shows the level of confidence we have not only in him, but that entire group to go out there and execute, and they did a great job on that (first) one. (But) certainly, you’ve got to make the chip shots.”
Hope for Jones?
The Packers played Sunday without No. 1 running back Aaron Jones (knee) and sack leader Rashan Gary (elbow), but LaFleur expressed hope that Jones, who injured his knee against Seattle on Nov. 14, could practice this week and play Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams.
“I think there’s definitely a chance, but we’ll see where he is when we start practicing on Wednesday,” LaFleur said.
Meanwhile, LaFleur admitted that with the bye week coming after the Rams game that the coaching and medical staffs will at least to some degree take that opportunity for extra rest into account.
For instance, if getting two full weeks of healing will allow Gary’s elbow to be close to 100% in time for the team’s post-bye Dec. 12 game against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field, then perhaps it’s worth holding him out against the Rams instead of letting him play through the injury while wearing a bulky protective brace — as Gary had hoped to do against the Vikings.
“I think that there’s some of that that could potentially come into play,” LaFleur said. “But if they are healthy and cleared to go, then certainly we’re not going to hold ‘em back.”
And while Aaron Rodgers’ mysterious toe injury was an issue for the quarterback against the Vikings — even if his performance didn’t necessarily show it — LaFleur fully expects Rodgers to start against the Rams, albeit with limited practice work once again.
“I think he is as tough as they come, and I think he will fight through this thing,” LaFleur said.
The Packers entered Sunday’s game as the NFL’s least-penalized team, but with eight penalties for 92 yards, they set a single-game season high, surpassing their seven penalties for 87 yards against San Francisco on Sept. 26.
LaFleur was particularly bothered by the 12-men-on-the-field penalty against the defense at the 2-minute warning of the fourth quarter, calling it “embarrassing” and “inexcusable” after the game. He was still irritated on Monday.
“We pride ourselves on being disciplined. Certainly, there’s a couple (of penalties) you’ve got to make sure you avoid,” LaFleur said. “I think some of them just kind of happen in the heat of the battle. (But) you can’t have 12 men on the field. That is, like I said yesterday, that’s inexcusable.”
LaFleur said he’s still unclear on why center Lucas Patrick was called for a false start while the offense was using a silent count during the first half. Referee Shawn Hochuli was overheard on the TV broadcast telling Rodgers that he’d been warned earlier in the game about whatever Patrick allegedly did.
“(We’re) working through that right now,” LaFleur said when asked why the penalty was called. “We haven’t changed our snap count since I’ve been here and Aaron’s been operating — I know there’s been other centers in there — but we’ve been operating that way for a really long time. It was kind of news to me that that was illegal. I need to get clarification on what we’re doing wrong, and if we are doing something wrong, then we have to coach it differently and we have to get it corrected.”
LaFleur said he wasn’t sure why replay officials overturned Darnell Savage’s late fourth-quarter interception, which would have put the Packers in prime position to win the game.
Asked in what way the Savage play was different from cornerback Kevin King’s interception in the end zone against Seattle a week earlier, LaFleur acknowledged he wasn’t sure.
“I think there’s a lot of similarities there,” LaFleur said. “Again, it’s just something that we have to get clarification on in terms of, does it matter, the area of the field? Are you in the end zone, does it count? If you’re in the field of play, does it not count? It’s just one of those that I don’t particularly understand.”
The Packers released veteran safety Will Redmond from their injured reserve list. Redmond had suffered a toe injury during training camp and had been on IR ever since.