Packers' kicking game has been snap, hold (your breath) and kick

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Brett Goode watched from the stands at AT&T Stadium in October when his buddy Mason Crosby missed two extra points against the Dallas Cowboys, and it was a helpless feeling.

Goode, the Green Bay Packers' longtime long-snapper, suffered a hamstring injury just two weeks earlier and was released with an injury settlement.

Since then, the Packers went through two other snappers -- Taybor Pepper, who was running a cash register at his family’s children’s boutique when the Packers called, and Derek Hart, who was signed after Pepper suffered a broken foot in practice.

It was anything but a smooth operation.

There was the blocked 38-yard field goal on the opening drive against the Lions in Week 9 and the missed 35-yarder last week at Chicago in the final minutes. The blocked kick went awry from the beginning because of Hart’s low snap. The miss was chalked up to an off-line snap that holder Justin Vogel mishandled. Crosby’s only other missed field goal this season was a 59-yard desperation try on the final drive of the first half against the Saints.

“The disappointing ones are the last couple of weeks on shorter kicks, just having some issues with the operation and not being able to execute those, especially in those situations -- first drive of the game, 38-yarder, got to make the kick; 35-yarder to basically close out the game, got to make the kick,” Crosby said. “Got to execute the whole deal. So those are disappointing and those are the ones that, if we clean up moving forward, it should be fairly solid.”

Crosby shouldn’t have to worry about the snap portion of the snap-hold-kick operation Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens thanks to Goode’s return. The 33-year-old, 10-year veteran was re-signed this week. It was the earliest the Packers could have brought him back under the terms of his injury settlement.

“I feel bad for Mason,” Packers special-teams coach Ron Zook said. “Because it’s not a problem until it’s a problem, then it’s a big problem. It’s just consistency. Consistency, consistency, consistency. You can’t buy experience. If you can buy it, I’d spend all my money on it. It’s just something we’ve got to keep working on, and we’re getting better, we’re making progress. We’ve just got to keep doing it.”

Crosby called this season “a grind.”

“Obviously it’s been a challenge,” he said. “I always look at myself first and keep evaluating that. I think in some of those situations that’s the hardest part. It’s hard to evaluate what can I do when a ball is on the ground or different things, or we have hesitation and the timing is off. So that’s ultimately my job. My job is to go out there and make kicks whenever called upon. I look at it from that simple of a point of view, and I make sure I evaluate and look at myself first and foremost and then move into the rest.”

At least with Goode back, the Packers have two-thirds of their operation intact. Vogel is the third different holder in as many seasons.

“I think he’ll jump right in there,” Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said. “I don’t really worry much about the snapping. It’s more about the footwork and protection and so forth. He’s done it for a long time, and he’s done it at a high level, so it’s great to have him back.”

Goode has never had a major snap malfunction during his career, but he’s not taking anything for granted. During his time away from the Packers, he snapped to his brother in Fort Smith, Arkansas, to stay sharp.

“I just know for me personally, I’m [always] working on it,” Goode said. “I’m not perfect by any means. I still make mistakes. I’m not coming back and just perfect. I’m going to come back and do my best.”