The Green Bay Packers have three kickers on their roster.
Whether it will be a three-kicker duel for a berth on the final roster remains to be seen.
The Packers worked out Zach Ramirez, an undrafted rookie from Portland State, before Sunday’s practice and signed him to compete with Mason Crosby and Giorgio Tavecchio.
During their first battle, Ramirez and Crosby went 10-of-11 on field goals while Tavecchio made 9-of-11 attempts. Kicking with a strong wind to their backs, Tavecchio and Ramirez missed from 45 yards and Crosby missed from 53. After all three connected from 60 yards, Crosby made it from 63 with a boot that probably would have been good from 75 yards, Tavecchio was wide left and Ramirez split the uprights.
Asked after practice whether he’d take all three kickers to the preseason finale at Kansas City, coach Mike McCarthy said, “That’s something we’re going to have to talk about. There’s still some decisions you have to make. Obviously we will not make every decision until Tuesday (when the cut to 75 players is due).”
Ramirez was called by the Packers on Thursday – one day after Crosby missed three consecutive kicks at practice. He flew to Green Bay on Saturday and went through his workout on Sunday.
“It was awesome,” he said. “Just the opportunity kicking anywhere, I haven’t kicked with any other team since rookie minicamp, so this is a great opportunity, great chance.”
Ramirez, who went by Zach Brown at Portland State, was a first-team FCS All-American in 2011, when he made 24-of-27 field-goal attempts. He made 16 in a row spanning his sophomore and junior years, and finished his career with six makes from 50-plus yards. Limited to six games by an MCL injury to his right (kicking) knee sustained on his first kick of the season, he connected on 4-of-7 attempts in 2012.
“When I came back, I was nowhere near what I was and could have been,” he said. “So, once I came back and was comfortable enough to kick the ball, from there it was leg strength.”
He participated in Seattle's rookie minicamp on a tryout basis but was not signed. For the last four months, he’s worked out on his own as well as with his former college teammates.
Crosby, who is trying to retain his job after a miserable 21-of-33 performance in 2012, has kicked well during training camp other than two major hiccups: his 3-of-8 performance on Family Night and the three misses last week.
“I don’t get frustrated now. I just go out every day (and) I’m thankful for this opportunity,” Crosby said. “Obviously, I didn’t have the numbers, didn’t have the year I needed to last year. I’m working it hard every day to try and earn my spot on this team, be a good teammate. Every time I step on field, I want my team to have confidence and the guys around to have confidence I’m going to put it through and that’s what I’m trying to show every time I go out there.”
Tavecchio seemed to take the signing in stride, too, saying he was in “Giorgio world, I guess.”
As was Ramirez and Crosby, Tavecchio was swarmed by reporters after practice. While he doesn’t have Crosby’s big leg, he’s been far more consistent during training camp. However, while Crosby is 4-of-4 on field goals in the games, Tavecchio is 1-of-2.
“I’m not unaware of the situation that today presented with them signing Zach,” Tavecchio said. “Again, this is me being genuine. It’s an opportunity; this is business, this is how it goes. If I try to think about why or what … it’s not my decision to make, it’s theirs.
“If I let other doubts or thoughts, whether it’s that or whether it’s the wind, creep in, it moves that lens of my zone. And I don’t think it’s very beneficial.”
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.