Packers still uncertain about kicking situation

    2013-08-25 19:24

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) - While the Green Bay Packers may have decided on their backup quarterback, they're still uncertain about their kicking situation.

On Sunday, the Packers announced the release of incumbent No. 2 quarterback Graham Harrell, making it likely that Vince Young will open the season as Aaron Rodgers' backup.

Also, the Packers signed kicker Zach Ramirez and had him competing with Mason Crosby and Giorgio Tavecchio, who've been battling throughout camp.

``How do I feel about the kicking position? We had three kickers (on) the practice field today. I think that illustrates how exactly we feel about the kicking position,'' Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.

``There's a job available and someone needs to jump through the door and take it. That hasn't happened yet.''

With a significant wind at their backs in practice, the three kickers attempted 11 kicks.

Crosby went 10 for 11, missing wide left from 53 yards. Tavecchio went 9 for 11, missing wide right from 45 and wide left from 63. Ramirez went 10 for 11, with his miss coming from 45 yards.

``This is a different situation. (But) I never question what the thoughts are upstairs,'' said Crosby, who made only 21 of 33 field-goal attempts last season for a league-worst 63.6 percent success rate.

``For me, it's just focus on what needs to be done. I want to make this team and I've got to keep kicking like I did today. That's all I can think about.

``But yeah, it's definitely a different a situation as far as bringing him in right at the end here. But we'll see what happens.''

Ramirez, a 6-foot, 212-pound rookie out of Portland State, was an FCS first-team All-America and earned first-team All-Big Sky Conference honors after connecting on a school-record 24 field goals on 27 attempts (88.9 percent) as a junior in 2011. He was limited to six games as a senior in 2012 due to a knee injury and made 4 of 7 field goals.

Ramirez said he tore the medial collateral ligament in his right knee on an extra point, the first kick of the first game of the 2012 season.

While he returned later in the year, he wasn't 100 percent.

The only NFL interest he garnered was a tryout with the Seattle Seahawks in May at the team's rookie camp, but he wasn't signed to a contract.

``I was nowhere near full strength, even two weeks after the last game. Body weight was still down, my leg still didn't feel comfortable, wasn't the same,'' Ramirez said.

``This is all I wanted, basically another opportunity. I went to Seattle and got my shot. They didn't like what I did, but they didn't explain too much what was wrong, it was kind of, `Great job, we felt like this guy kicked better than you.'''

That could be the end result here, too.

McCarthy wouldn't say if he would take all three kickers into the preseason finale at Kansas City on Thursday night, but Ramirez showed enough in his workout to pique the Packers' interest.

``Ramirez is someone that we worked out in the past. We were impressed with him (then),'' McCarthy said.

``He kicked this morning in a workout and when we take him up from the workout, (we) felt the second time around, we needed to take a closer look. I thought he did a heck of a job. I thought all three kickers did a heck of a job in today's practice.''

The Packers still have 10 more roster moves to make before Tuesday's mandatory cutdown to 75 players, having released Harrell, wide receivers Alex Gillett, Omarius Hines and Justin Wilson, running back Angelo Pease and defensive tackle Gilbert Pena.

While McCarthy said that Young still must compete with third-stringer B.J. Coleman for the top backup job, the odds of the inexperienced and inconsistent Coleman overtaking Young seem unlikely.

Young completed 6 of 7 passes for 41 yards and a touchdown (130.7 rating) and had scrambles of 21 and 18 yards against the Seahawks.

``Vince Young's making progress,'' McCarthy said. ``I think it's the obvious. He's more and more comfortable each week with our terminology and with our offense.''

Young, who was out of football last year after being cut by Buffalo at the end of training camp, said he can't let up now.

``I'm still working, still trying to get better, still catching up. It's a lot to learn right now,'' said Young, who was the No. 3 overall pick in 2006 said. ``I just really feel like just a lot of extra work behind the scenes is going to help me get to where I need be at.''

Harrell, who was the No. 3 quarterback in 2010 and 2011 while splitting time on the practice squad and the 53-man roster, served as Rodgers' backup last season but didn't appear to take a jump this year.

In three preseason games, Harrell completed just 23 of 42 passes (54.8 percent) for 169 yards with no touchdowns and one interception (54.6 rating). In 14 possessions, he led the Packers to just three points.

``(It was) tough decision to release Graham, more so on a personal level,'' McCarthy said. ``Graham's been with us for three years. Very fond of him. He was developing and he was getting better. At the end of the day we talk about creating opportunities and performance and we feel at this particular time we're going in another direction with the two remaining quarterbacks.''

NOTES: Safety Morgan Burnett (hamstring), cornerback Casey Hayward (hamstring), inside linebacker Brad Jones (hamstring) and running back DuJuan Harris (knee) all missed practice with injuries sustained against Seattle. McCarthy ruled Burnett and Hayward out for Thursday's game and said doctors were still gathering ``more information'' about Harris' injury. ... Wide receivers Jordy Nelson (knee) and Randall Cobb (biceps), neither of whom has seen action in preseason play, both took part in practice and could play against the Chiefs.


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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