New NFL Practice Squad Rules Allow Flexibility For the Packers To Develop A Young Kicker

Green Bay spent a sixth-round pick on Anders Carlson

After 16 seasons, the Green Bay Packers finally will have a change at the kicker position. Mason Crosby, 38 years old, hasn't re-signed after being the Packers kicker from 2007 to 2022. The front office let the door open for a reunion, but that became highly unlikely after the team spent a sixth-round pick to select Anders Carlson, who has a strong connection to assistant head coach and special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia — he recruited Anders' brother, Daniel, to Auburn and coached him with the Las Vegas Raiders.

So far, in training camp, Anders Carlson has been inconsistent. During one practice last week, for instance, he converted just two of seven kicks. On Family Night, though, he was much better: 8-9, and the miss was mostly caused by a bad snap operation. That's usual for a young player, and the Packers don't seem concerned for now.

"I do think it's one of those things that this is the National Football League. You’ve got to perform at every position," said Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst. "At the same time, we went into this kind of knowing that rookie kickers will have some struggles, with the thought process there will be some patience there."

The Packers also want to avoid a situation that actually happened to Anders' brother. Daniel Carlson was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the fifth round in 2018. But he struggled early and was cut after just two games (the last one, a tie against the Packers) because he missed three out of four field goals. The Vikings decided to replace him with veteran Dan Bailey. But Daniel bounced back, signed with the Raiders, and became one of the most solid kickers in the league.

Roster-bulding strategy

In 2020, the NFL decided to adjust practice squad rules to give teams flexibility because of covid. The changes were so successful that the league made them permanent. For 2023, teams can build 16-player practice squads, and these players can be elevated three times per season to active rosters on game day, reverting back to the practice squad one day after the game without going through waivers. Besides that, each team can add up to six players with unlimited accrued seasons on the practice squad — which means franchises may have real veterans there. These rules might give the Packers some leeway to be patient with the young kicker.

Since the expanded practice squads were implemented, the Packers have always kept a kicker on the extra group. It was JJ Molson in 2020 and 2021, and Ramiz Ahmed last year. Those were mostly emergency and developmental players, because Crosby was the established starter. But now, Gutekunst can use the tool to rotate veterans through the season and elevate them if needed. Doing this, the Packers can keep Carlson on the active roster, not exposing him to waiver claims while he develops.

Currently, the group of free agent kickers include veterans Ryan Succop, Robbie Gould, Randy Bullock, and Tristan Vizcaino. And many more will join the party after the initial 53-man rosters are established.

The Packers could add a veteran kicker to the practice squad, with Anders Carlson on the 53-man roster. The rookie would probably start the season anyway. If he struggles early as his brother did, there would be no reason to release him. Green Bay would have the flexibility to elevate the veteran for game day, keeping Carlson inactive, but protected on the roster.
Most likely, the Packers will ride with Anders Carlson and give him time to develop. However, the new NFL practice squad rules give them extra malleability to operate during a transition phase throughout the roster.

Photo: Seeger Gray/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin / USA TODAY NETWORK

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Wendell Ferreira covers the Green Bay Packers for Zone Coverage and Cheesehead TV. He is a Brazilian journalist with over a decade of experience covering the NFL, soccer, NBA, and MMA. Follow him on twitter at @wendellfp  

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8 points
 

Comments (30)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Coldworld's picture

August 08, 2023 at 11:11 am

Interesting idea, but I think the flaw is that good veterans will want to play and would be signed off the PS if we did get one there. There aren’t enough proven kickers who are good to go around. Those that are are active or injured.

Carlson really has had one poor day really. Over the summer he was consistently good and in camp he’s subsequently been back on track. My guess if they stash anyone from the kicking units currently on the roster to the PS to develop, it’s Whelan the punter, who can also kick off and perhaps kick if needed.

5 points
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croatpackfan's picture

August 08, 2023 at 11:18 am

Nice work Wendell.

We have to remember that Green Bay (and, as I read, the whole Wisconsin) have uniqe type of weather. Anders Carlson probably met Wsconsin's strong wind first time in his life, so he might try to kick as hard as he can - in those situations probability for mistakes rise up quickly. I think that is what happened to him on that bad, bad day.

0 points
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Swisch's picture

August 08, 2023 at 11:23 am

With this flexibility in the rules, my hunch would be to go with a proven kicker by bringing back Mason Crosby, while giving Anders Carlson a year to develop on the practice squad, especially during the cold and windy months at the end of the season.
If Crosby really doesn't have it anymore, then Carlson is available -- and I'd rather do it that way than the other way around.
With a young team with lots of talent but little experience likely to be fighting hard in many close games, it's really deflating to have a field goal kicker missing at the very end to result in a missed-opportunity of a loss.
Also, Mason could be a mentor to Anders in developing consistency as a kicker, and coming through in adverse weather.
If Mason is good with this arrangement of one more year and preparing his probable replacement, then it could be a great way to go for everyone rooting for the Packers.

-3 points
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lou's picture

August 08, 2023 at 12:32 pm

Just a reminder, if the Packers would have retained Don Chandler on a part time basis (he wanted to spend the first few days of the week at his business and fly in Friday and kick on Sundays) Phil Bengston's teams would have made the playoffs his first 2 seasons as they lost so many close games because of missed kicks. Go back and check who and how many kickers they brought in, they even had anyone off the street doing trials at Ashwabenon High School it got so bad. Points are a premium especially with a first time starter at QB and noting a below average in the red zone success rate with a Hall of Fame QB the year before. Everyone would like the kid to be the answer but their needs to be a Plan B and Plan C.

6 points
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Swisch's picture

August 08, 2023 at 01:34 pm

Fascinating stuff, lou, that the Packers would actually have made the playoffs in 1968 and 1969 with a competent kicker. Wow!
It'd be great to get the details of what games were booted away by the Packers, so to speak.
If the Packers had kept their winning ways after Lombardi left the sideline as head coach, perhaps they don't sink into a 30-year slump of misery.
***
The kicker is like a closer in baseball, and it requires a guy with nerves of steel and tenacity as a competitor.
To lose a winnable game due to a poor kicker or closer is a demoralizing downer of severe pain.
The Packers seem poised to win 7-10 games this season, and the right kicker might be the difference between making or not making the playoffs.
It's also important for the development of a young team that they get used to winning ways, so as to grow closer and closer to an eventual win in the Super Bowl.
***
If Crosby is as good as last year, then he's the way to go.
In addition to top performance overall kicking field goals, didn't he hit one from at least 50 yards late last season against the Vikings?
As the above article points out (and which I didn't know), the Packers can still keep Carlson and develop him on the practice squad.
Carlson can be developed in a way somewhat similar to Jordan Love. Allow him to grow in experience as well as the craft of kicking.
It's win-win for both kickers, and for the Packers.
The drawback of Crosby being shorter on kickoffs pales in comparison to his credentials in the clutch kicking field goals to win games.

-2 points
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greengold's picture

August 08, 2023 at 11:34 am

Different people covering the Packers have different numbers. Some don't count botched snaps as an attempt, some do.

I think Andy Herman's running total for Anders Carlson throughout TC is 30-40, 75%.

Bill Huber has Carlson currently as being 30-43, 69.8%, after coming back strong, making 14 of 16 for 87.5% in his last 2 practices. Carlson was 5 of 6 yesterday in a strong wind, hitting on 33, 44, left upright from 45, then 49, 50 and 51 yds.

I won't be concerned about our Kicker until Rich Bisaccia says otherwise. Good to see Anders coming back strong after working out some early kinks. Anders sure seemed to like his new home field at Lambeau. He looks like a gamer which is great to see.

7 points
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T7Steve's picture

August 09, 2023 at 01:33 pm

"I won't be concerned about our Kicker until Rich Bisaccia says otherwise."

I kind of thought he went with our 1st punt return specialist a little too long last season, don't you?

I really wonder if he or who was responsible for that?

0 points
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stockholder's picture

August 08, 2023 at 11:57 am

We have a coach for this or that position.
But why don't we have a Kicker coach?
Even a past veteran would help.
Here we drafted a rookie;
so does he tell the holder how to place it?
No knock on the ST coach. Butt---
If we can have a QB coach.
Somebody should help this kid through
the freezes, climate, and placement.

2 points
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mnbadger's picture

August 08, 2023 at 12:47 pm

As a former HS kicker (makes me a topic expert!) I agree that there should be a position coach for the kicker.
I'm guessing that the best ST's coaches are good at all phases.
I'm also guessing the kickers, like golfers, have their own personal swing coach and the ST's coach just watches tendencies so when things go bad, they can help bring them back into their groove.
For me, no matter who's kicking, I'm always nervous. Good luck Anders, Good luck Rich and Good luck Mason, no matter where your life/career takes you from here. You've always Carried the G in a very dignified and professional manner.
GPG!

9 points
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Ferrari-Driver's picture

August 08, 2023 at 02:00 pm

This topic reminded me of an old Green Bay Packers kicker back in the days of straight on kickers when the percentage of kicks missed was much higher and the distance from which the field goals were generally kicked were much shorter than it is today.

The kicker I am talking about is our Hall of Fame running back, Paul Hornung. His career stats on field goals was 47%. One day he was asked by a reporter how his field goal kicking was going and Paul, nonchalantly replied "I can't kick". Paul Hornung was a cool guy and good with the fans, plus he had a sense of humor.

4 points
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greengold's picture

August 08, 2023 at 02:18 pm

And he did everybody's grandma.

0 points
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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

August 08, 2023 at 06:35 pm

Yeah and missed a year of his career on a gambling suspension. But otherwise he was a great guy. #1 pick that did live up to that status. Getting a Hall of Famer out of one of your two ever first pick in the draft is pretty great.

2 points
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jurp's picture

August 08, 2023 at 02:51 pm

Since we're talking ancient history, Jerry Kramer was also a placekicker - his FG stats are better than Hornung's, at 53.7% made. (29 of 54). For reference, Don Chandler was at 58.4%, so Kramer was actually a decent kicker.

3 points
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Swisch's picture

August 08, 2023 at 05:47 pm

My understanding is that Hornung struggled as a kicker, at least for awhile, after he was suspended for the entire 1963 season for gambling.
In other words, Hornung's accuracy as a kicker may have been better earlier in his career through the 1962 season.
Maybe you can affirm or refute this, Ferrari-Driver, and other fans could weigh in, too.
***
I was born in 1962 in Columbia Hospital in Milwaukee, and a couple of years after my late dad was involved with a community group in South Milwaukee, I think the Jaycees.
He asked Bart Starr to speak at a group event, but he politely declined due to a prior commitment. However, my dad was able to get as a speaker a new basketball coach at Marquette named Al McGuire.
Anyway, the joke my dad told at the event -- apparently in 1964 -- was similar to the one noted above by Ferrari-Driver: Someone asked Paul Hornung about how he was doing, and he replied, "I can't kick."
I don't know if my dad had heard Hornung tell the joke previously, or where he got it, or if he made it up on his own coincidental to Hornung telling it. It seems the joke went over well with the audience, from the way my dad told the story.
Anyway, the kicker to the joke is that the phrase, "I can't kick," wasn't familiar to me growing up in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, with high school graduation in 1980.
Apparently, it means, "I can't complain."
Maybe it's a Wisconsin thing like calling a water fountain a "bubbler."
We moved out of the state to suburban Houston about this time (maybe 1965) for a couple of years, then to suburban Philadelphia, later to suburban Chicago -- so somehow I became a devoted Packers fan from far away after the Lombardi Era (following the team from about 1971).

3 points
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Ferrari-Driver's picture

August 08, 2023 at 06:23 pm

Apparently, it means, "I can't complain."

You hit the nail on the head. (another one of those sayings)

"Bubbler" and "Sheepshead" are words unfamiliar to these California people that I have all around me.

3 points
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Swisch's picture

August 08, 2023 at 07:04 pm

I miss playing sheepshead with my dad (who grew up on the north side of Milwaukee near Hampton and Sherman) and my stepmom (from Brillion), with my brother and sister brought in willingly or not.
Even though I was truly terrible at it -- not being able to keep track of the cards being played, no matter how hard I tried -- I still had a lot of fun playing.

2 points
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Ferrari-Driver's picture

August 08, 2023 at 02:25 pm

A few posts earlier "lou" was talking about the value of Don Chandler as a kicker for the Packer.

I was at a playoff game in Lambeau Field with my brother in 1965 against the then "Baltimore Colts". We were sitting around the 30 yard line and with the Packers playing and only seconds left in regulation, Don Chandler kicked a 22 yard field goal which was called good by the referee. Chandler kicked the ball high in the air and it was so close it was hard to tell if it was good or not and fortunately it was called "good" and the Packers tied the game in regulation and won it in sudden death overtime with Chandler kicking a winning 25 yard field goal. Now that is a long time ago, about 58 years and most of the posters here are not old enough to remember that, but I have the link here if those of you who are younger would like to read about it: https://archive.jsonline.com/sports/packers/184032361.html/

One side note is that after that kick by the Packers, the NFL raised the height of the goal posts to help referees better determine if a field goal which is kicked high in the air is inside or outside of the goal posts.

5 points
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LeotisHarris's picture

August 08, 2023 at 03:45 pm

A game of inches, indeed. NFL history could have been much different if the correct call was made on Chandler's game-tying field goal. If Dallas could have converted from the Packers 2 year line in 1966, or if Bart slipped or Jethro Pugh got lower than low in 1967, teams could be playing for the Tom Landry Trophy. Or maybe Kansas City would have won two of the first four Super Bowls and the trophy would have been named after :shudder:: Hank Stram? (65 Toss Power Trap Trophy).

4 points
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greengold's picture

August 08, 2023 at 04:07 pm

Wild. True. Sacrilege.

3 points
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Ferrari-Driver's picture

August 08, 2023 at 04:20 pm

Perhaps I was praying and begging hard enough that the referee blew the call and if so, I'm sure glad I made it to that game.

3 points
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Swisch's picture

August 08, 2023 at 06:25 pm

I don't know whether the kick for a field goal at the end of regulation was inside the uprights or not -- but it's worth noting that the Packers had beaten the Colts already twice that season of 1965, including a win in Baltimore just two weeks earlier.
With Bart Starr, the Packers were going to play those big games through with toughness and intelligence to the very end, and his record in the playoffs was 9-1 (although I understand that one of those wins was actually this matchup with the Colts as a tiebreaker playoff game, in which Starr was knocked out of the game with an injury on his very first play, and Zeke Bratkowski came through as the backup).
***
The main point is that our current Packers of 2023 in all of their youthfulness need to develop this tenacity to play every game all the way through -- trying every legitimate tactic and expending every ounce of energy to come out on top.
In other words -- while there's no guarantee of victory no matter how well a team plays -- the Packers of the Lombardi Era largely made their own luck through disciplined and determined teamwork.
The legendary 68-yard touchdown drive in the 1967 NFL Championship Game against the Cowboys in the last frigid minutes on the literally frozen tundra -- culminating in Starr's winning quarterback sneak -- was the climax of all the years of common sacrifice for shared glory.
It seems the Packers of recent years have been finding ways to lose the biggest of games -- ending their past three seasons with devastating losses at Lambeau Field.
What I think we can indeed get from Jordan Love is a quarterback who leads the Packers in finding ways to win when it counts the most.
May Love realize that the true test of his career won't be mainly his stats, but his stature. His character from the most meaningless moments of the preseason to the highest pressure of the playoffs will be the key to putting the Packers over the top more often than not.
I'm excited to see Love not only throw precision passes all over the field, but developing as a leader of men.
That's how you truly become a Starr.

5 points
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Ferrari-Driver's picture

August 09, 2023 at 08:46 am

Hey Swisch, pat on the back for that clever last sentence. Bart Starr was a one of a kind.

1 points
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Oppy's picture

August 08, 2023 at 03:33 pm

Gotta assume Gutekunst and the scouts conferred with Bisaccia- or Bisaccia petitioned Gutenkunst- and Bisaccia said he can work with Anders' swing and correct what ails him.

The leg strength is needed for outdoor kicking in the elements at Lambeau late in the season.

Beyond the story of Anders' brother, let's not forget that Mason Crosby had his share of early trials and tribulations, and MM's insistence on sticking by him paid off. I don't think it can be understated that, while Anders has struggled so far in camp- mightily struggled, even- for a young kicker to go into family night and perform with a ton of scrutiny on his performance and shake off his troubles and kick lights out like that is extremely impressive.

That's the mental fortitude you need as a kicker. I hope Bisaccia can work the kinks out, have a shot at having another long-term answer for K in green and gold.

4 points
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13TimeChamps's picture

August 08, 2023 at 04:58 pm

Wouldn't that be awesome if we have our next QB/PK combo in place for the next decade or so like we did with Rodgers/Crosby?

3 points
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Coldworld's picture

August 08, 2023 at 05:25 pm

There’s never a good time to move on from a great kicker. Unlike most here, I think this is about the best time to do so. A first year starter at QB, the youngest roster in the league. If ever a team’s future isn’t on the line through the growth pains of a kicker, it’s now.

If we show we have a coach that can get it done and Love and the youth show that they are capable, next year and beyond it will be much more critical to have a kicker established. Then W:L could really matter. This year is a growth and iron out the kinks year. We may be good, but if we are, next year we are likely to be much better. Let’s bite this bullet now.

6 points
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Oppy's picture

August 08, 2023 at 06:58 pm

As much as I love Mason Crosby, and I'm sad to see him go, it really is the right time to do so. We've all seen the leg strength dwindling the last few seasons, and having both a kick off specialist and an accurate-but-ever-more-range limited place kicker just eats a roster spot.

I was also concerned with how the Packers were clearly protecting Crosby's leg for the first 5-6 games of the season after he apparently had 'run of the mill' ortho to clean up his knee last offseason. There were a number of game decisions to go for it on 4th down early last year that would have typically been FG attempts.

I agree with all of your sentiments as well. Hoping that the Packers have found their young guns for kicking and punting and they develop into credible starters for years to come.

4 points
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Ima Payne's picture

August 08, 2023 at 07:37 pm

Hey I still laugh when Zimmer fired his new young kicker he drated after he missed three field goals. He was asked why didn't he keep the guy and develop him and Zimmer (grumpy mood) said" we're in the win now mode not development mode". They found another guy right away. I hope the Packers do same if this guy sucks.. can't ask team to bust there ass and the kicker screws it all up

-2 points
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Ima Payne's picture

August 08, 2023 at 07:55 pm

Keep in mind back in those days there weren't any domed stadiums. Kickers kicked in all weather. Not to mention there weren't a lot of fair weather teams. It was winter, snow sleet rain wind teams.

3 points
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greengold's picture

August 09, 2023 at 01:01 am

Keep in mind back in those days there weren't any Vikings.

6 points
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T7Steve's picture

August 09, 2023 at 01:51 pm

I think this season we should just score TDs. That way he can dial in on extra points to get the kinks out. If the worst happens, we'll make it up with 2 pointers the next time.

0 points
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