Detroit Lions special teams stacks up well against rest of NFC North
Green Bay Packers
Key returning players: Mason Crosby, JK Scott, Hunter Bradley
New additions: Sam Ficken
Key losses: None
Mason Crosby has been the Green Bay Packers’ placekicker since 2007. He has never missed a game. He has played against the Lions 24 times. Yet he’s probably had fewer games he’d like to forget more than the Packers’ Week 5 loss in Detroit last season.
Crosby missed four of his five field goal attempts and his only extra point try in that game, and many thought that his time as a Packer could be in jeopardy. He was the first player since 2001 to miss four field goals in a game, and he has been fairly average over the last two seasons, hitting just 80 percent of his field goal attempts. Crosby will be 35 when the season starts, and with his salary at nearly $5 million, there will be a kicking competition in Packers training camp this year.
Prior to joining the Packers in April, kicker Sam Ficken had spent time with four different teams over the last four seasons. He has made just three of his six career field goal attempts, filling in for Los Angeles Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein over the last two seasons. Crosby will definitely be the favorite, and he has shown resiliency in the past when challenged. It will be an important battle to watch when Packers camp opens next week.
Two rookies made up the rest of the kicking trio last year, and the outcome was middling at best. Punter JK Scott was disappointing after being a fifth round draft pick, with a net average of just 38.8 yards. He and long snapper Hunter Bradley will be looking for better results under new special teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga, after first year head coach Matt LaFleur did not retain Ron Zook, who had held the position since 2015.
Receiver Trevor Davis hasn’t made much progress on offense in four seasons, but could get another shot at returning puts if he can stay healthy. Some of the Packers’ other young receivers could also get a chance to win one of the return jobs.