Packers look to straighten out punting, kicking before playoffs Print
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Thursday, 27 December 2007 13:58
NFL Headline News

 GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -Jon Ryan paused midway through a detailed description of the mistakes he made during one of his punting misadventures Sunday.
He realized that it simply wasn't worth explaining everything that went wrong in the cold and windy conditions at Chicago.
``It was brutal,'' Ryan said. ``I don't know what else to say. Sunday was a brutal day, and it's a day that I'll probably have nightmares about for a little bit.''
Ryan had two punts blocked, mishandled a snap and shanked yet another for 9 yards in the Packers' 35-7 loss.
After watching game film and getting back to practice this week, Ryan said he actually felt a little better about his performance against the Bears.
``I couldn't feel any worse than I did on Sunday,'' Ryan said. ``There's only one way to go from there. I do feel a little bit better about it today, just because it always makes you feel better when I can go out there and kick and remember that I still can punt the ball. It was just a bizarre day, and I'm going to learn from it.''
Green Bay's much-improved special teams have been a key piece of the team's turnaround this season. But with the playoffs approaching, the Packers' punting and kicking games haven't exactly been at their best in the great outdoors lately.
Ryan had a wretched day in the extreme combination of wind and cold on Sunday. But he shouldn't take all the blame, as the winds sent the ball sailing on snaps and the Packers' punt protection team didn't do Ryan any favors with their poor blocking.
``The mistakes that we made, just on the right side, the elementary technique, my goodness,'' Packers coach Mike McCarthy said with a twinge of disgust.
McCarthy had the punt team run extra drills in pads this week, knowing they could face wintry conditions again in the Packers' regular-season finale against Detroit at Lambeau Field on Sunday.
``We have to handle the football,'' McCarthy said. ``Once again, we have to handle the wind. We had the ball on the ground and had all the problems with it, and Chicago did a great job with it. We just need to do a much better job.''
Packers special teams coordinator Mike Stock was in no mood to talk about Sunday's fiasco, threatening to walk away from an interview if the questions continued to focus more on the last game than the next one.
Asked if the extra practice in pads this week would help, Stock answered simply, ``It better.''
Meanwhile, rookie Mason Crosby - perhaps mercifully - wasn't called on to kick a field goal against Chicago. But he hasn't had it easy of late either, making only two of his last six field-goal attempts at Lambeau.
``I'm not concerned about it,'' McCarthy said. ``And if it comes down to making a decision whether to kick or not to kick, we'll probably kick it. I believe in Mason Crosby.''
With good reason.
Crosby, a sixth-round draft pick out of Colorado, beat out incumbent kicker Dave Rayner in training camp and leads the NFL in scoring with 131 points - tying Ryan Longwell's franchise record for most points in a season by a kicker.
``I think he's talented, I think he's tough-minded, I think he's consistent, and that's what you're looking for,'' McCarthy said.
Both Ryan and Crosby have practiced outside in recent weeks, acclimating themselves to the tricky wind conditions at Lambeau.
``You can never really figure out the wind,'' Crosby said. ``You don't know what it's going to do. So it's one of those that you just kind of have to take it like it comes, and hopefully we won't have another windy game like Chicago's game. That was probably the most wind that I've ever played in, but it's something that definitely was good to learn from and be prepared for.''
Crosby isn't new to kicking in bad weather, recalling a college game against Iowa State that was delayed by tornadoes.
``I had a good game, that game, too,'' Crosby said. ``I think I hit from 57 and hit from 42 (yards). You can kick in those conditions, you just have to go out there and be focused.''
And Ryan is Canadian, setting a Canadian Football League record for gross punting average in 2005. Still, he'd never seen anything quite like he did in Chicago on Sunday.
``I've played in windier conditions, I've played in colder conditions, but never together like that,'' Ryan said. ``So it was difficult.''
Ryan said Brett Favre and longtime Packers long snapper Rob Davis both told him those were the worst conditions they'd ever played in, and he isn't letting one bad game affect his confidence.
``It's kind of one of those things where I felt like the weird things went wrong,'' Ryan said. ``I still feel like I'm hitting the ball well, so I still feel confident and I still am really looking forward to Sunday and getting out there and kind of redeeming myself a little bit.''
Crosby said Ryan won't have any problem bouncing back.
``One game is not going to define what kind of punter he is,'' Crosby said. ``All that stuff, you've got to kind of look at it as there's a lot that goes into it. You've just got to put it behind you.''
 

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