The Green Bay Packers haven't had a more devastating weapon on special teams in the last three-plus years than Mason Crosby's onside kickoffs. Four times since January 2010 Crosby has delivered surprise kickoffs that were surgically placed and recovered by teammates. That's in mothballs now. Crosby no longer kicks off. Tim Masthay the punter was handed the kickoff job at the end of the exhibition season. One reason might have been that the Packers didn't want a kickoff man if Crosby started poorly on field goals and his replacement didn't kick off. Masthay's leg probably is more powerful than Crosby's but how powerful must it be with the ball spotted at the 35 rather than the 30 since 2011? A touchback is a touchback whether the kick travels 75 yards or 85 yards. Meanwhile the Packers will continue working with Masthay on his onside kicks a delicate art form that Crosby didn't begin to excel in until his third season. "I definitely worked on that" Crosby said this week. "That's been a weapon for me and our team." Jarrett Bush the pillar of the special teams since 2006 acknowledged that Crosby's onside attempts did improve over time. He also said Crosby was one of the National Football League's best in what is an overlooked phase of special teams. "I'm pretty sure it's not too much trouble to learn from Mason how to kick the ball at an angle and make it get that big bounce" said Bush. "I think Tim can. "They're in the Don Hutson Center practicing all kinds of stuff. Learning how to do onside kicks is included in the job description. I would think he'd be able to do that." Masthay 26 is far from a novice when it comes to kicking off. He kicked off in a few games at Kentucky in 2005 then every game from 2006-'08. "I probably did two or three surprise ones and two or three must ones" recalled Masthay. "I can picture three of them in my head right now and we didn't get any of them. They were all really close. "Certainly I haven't had an onside kick in a game since 2008. Certainly I have worked on them. If I was called upon to execute it either way I'd feel pretty comfortable." Masthay begins his run up between 11 and 12 yards from the 35 whereas Crosby starts about 8 yards back. Masthay is building more speed than Crosby at the ball but he didn't think that would make onside kicks more difficult to execute.
Tim Masthay's booming leg untested on onside kicks
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Sep 21