Family Night reveals work still to be done

Mason Crosby’s struggles will get fixed;
Running game takes interesting twist

By Chris Havel
Special to Event USA
GREEN BAY, Wis. – It was the unholy trinity – the long snapper, holder and place-kicker – that stole the show in the Packers’ Family Night on Saturday at Lambeau Field.

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Mason Crosby’s struggles – he was a disastrous and out-of-the-blue six of seven attempts to close out the night.
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy charitably called it a “great training opportunity.” The only thing “great” was that it didn’t occur in the regular-season opener against Seattle.
Better to work out the bugs now than have them arise later.
Crosby was 22 of 23 in camp according to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky going into Family Night. By the time Derek Hart (the long snapper), punter Justin Vogel (the holder) and Crosby were finished a suddenly unexpected problem arose.
McCarthy didn’t seem too upset though.
In the Packers’ case, the kicker is among the least of the worries and frankly there aren’t that many worries to begin with.
Rookie running back Jamaal Williams is doing exactly what he should be doing, which is pressing for playing time and a role. Williams truly looks the part in terms of having a feel for the game.
Meantime, Ty Montgomery also looks fine, although he clearly isn’t the more polished pass protector, of the two. In fact, it could be argued that Williams will see considerable time.
That isn’t necessarily mean Montgomery has failed in some way, or that the Packers erred in moving him to running back.
What it means – if Williams continues to play well – is that the Packers actually may have a running back tandem that could invite both the head coach and quarterback to run the ball more.
That’s because they should be more effective.
What’s wrong with that?
Furthermore, Montgomery’s value is his versatility, among other things. The fact that he can have a significant role and impact in any game as a running back and receiver out of the backfield should lead to more explosive offensive play.
If Williams is indeed the better ball-carrier, and it remains to be seen, that would be good on two fronts.
First, Williams immediately provides a counterpart at back in case of an injury. Second, it allows Montgomery’s role as a runner-receiver to be more exact and explosive.
If Williams averages 15 carries a game and Montgomery gets another nine or 10 that’s a nice one-two punch. In addition, Montgomery easily could catch another half-dozen passes on screens, check-downs and when he’s split wide.
On defense, second-year pro Dean Lowry continues to show on the defensive line. He has made impact plays in consecutive practices and has been energetic and more than solid each day.
Lowry is listed as the starting right end in the Packers’ base 3-4 alignment, according to
He joins Kenny Clark and Mike Daniels up front, with Ricky Jean-Francois and Co. in back-up roles.
Clay Matthews and Nick Perry are the outside linebackers, with Blake Martinez and Jake Ryan as in the inside starters.
Davon House and Quinten Rollins are listed as the starting cornerbacks with Damarious Randall and Kevin King in the sub-packages.
With House missing practice Monday, Randall and Rollins were the starters, with King entering in the nickel and Randall moving to the slot.
If the apparent depth and versatility in camp continues to project during the pre-season and into the regular season, the secondary should be vastly improved.
On the special teams’ front, aside from the (uh-hem) kicking woes, Randall Cobb appears to be the punt returner. With Micah Hyde’s departure, a vacancy was created and Cobb looks to be the first choice.
I like the idea. There’s no reason a team’s No. 2 receiver can’t return punts. It’s up to the player to protect himself from injury. The 49ers’ terrific receiver John Taylor was the team’s primary punt returner for years.
Cobb should be praised for doing an important job.
It looks like Aaron Rodgers won’t play in the Packers’ pre-season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles Thursday night at Lambeau Field.
That has to rate among the best news the Packers could have all week, and it’s only Monday.