Third kicker makes for unusual competition

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Now we know exactly when the Green Bay Packers decided they needed another kicker in training camp.

Zach Ramirez, the free-agent kicker the Packers signed on Sunday, said he received a phone call from the Packers last Thursday morning.

“They woke me up and told me, ‘Would you like to come kick for the Packers?’” Ramirez said. “And I said I would love to.”

That means it was likely the woeful performance by incumbent Mason Crosby late in Wednesday’s practice, when he missed three straight field goals, which led the Packers to finally start looking at other options.

Ramirez, who kicked at Portland State University and went to the Seattle Seahawks’ rookie minicamp this past spring on a tryout basis, said he flew to Green Bay on Saturday and was one of two kickers to work out for the team on Sunday morning. He outkicked another street free agent, Delbert Alvarado, and was signed to the roster shortly before practice.

Perhaps the most unusual part of the situation is that the Packers now have three kickers on their roster. Not only did they keep Crosby, who steadied himself by making his only kick (a 38-yard field goal) in Friday’s preseason game against Seattle, but they still have first-year kicker Giorgio Tavecchio in camp.

And all three went through an extended kicking period during Sunday’s practice, and it was quite the unusual sight seeing three kickers attempt field goals from the same distances, which in order were: 35, 41, 45, 48, 50, 34, 39, 47, 53, 60 and 63 yards. Every attempt during the 33-kick period was with a strong helping wind.

The results looked like this:

  • Crosby, 10-of-11 (lone miss was wide left from 53 yards).

  • Tavecchio, 9-of-11 (missed wide right from 45 yards and wide left from 63).

  • Ramirez, 10-of-11 (lone miss was wide right from 45 yards).

As far as leg strength goes, the 23-year-old Ramirez had no trouble matching Crosby, who is considered one of the strongest kickers in the league. Both had plenty of distance from 63 yards.

“Most recently, I’ve hit a 72 yarder, but it was off a regular tee, no holder, no snapper,” Ramirez said.

In fact, Ramirez made a video that is posted on YouTube, in which he shows off his distance.

Ramirez made 28-of-34 field goals during his junior and senior seasons at Portland State but missed part of his senior season (2012) because of a knee injury.

With only one week remaining in the preseason, it’s worth wondering if Ramirez has enough time to impress the Packers. Coach Mike McCarthy wouldn’t say whether the Packers would take all three kickers into Thursday’s preseason game at Kansas City. They still have to make 10 more roster moves to get down to the mandated 75 by Tuesday.

“This is a different situation,” said Crosby, the seventh-year veteran who is in a kicking competition for the first time since 2007. “I never question what the thoughts are upstairs. 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. For me, that’s all I can think about. But yeah, it’s definitely a different situation as far as bringing him in right at the end, but we’ll see what happens.”