A roundup of what’s happening on the Green Bay Packers beat.
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Those who have followed the Packers for more than a decade may remember the name Frank Novak. The jovial former special-teams coach served under head coach Mike Sherman from 2000 to 2004, and whenever Novak walked by the assembled media at practice, he always had one word.
“Doubters,” Novak would say.
He always had a smile on his face when he said it, but he understood the business well enough to know the role of the media.
Current Packers kicker Mason Crosby, who never worked with Novak, certainly could have wagged his finger and used Novak’s favorite phrase on Thursday, when Crosby was named NFC special teams player of the month for October. Surely, Crosby knows that plenty of those who stood in front of his locker and asked him about his award had their doubts he would ever reach such heights again after last season’s slump.
“My mindset is all about the positive stuff,” Crosby said. “I’m not trying to dwell on the negatives. Don’t stick it to people who weren’t supportive.”
Through all of last season’s struggles, when he had the lowest field-goal percentage (63.6 percent) in the league, Crosby persevered.
And he might be a better kicker – and person – because of it. It’s something he said he and his wife, Molly, talk about often.
“We’re able to look back and just be like, ‘Man, that was such an amazing blessing in our life and it’s something that we can grow on,’ and we became closer as a family,” Crosby said. “We really saw what was important in our life together, with family and friends. My relationships grew stronger. I really saw some good positives.
“I obviously want to be successful every year in my job and what I do on the field, but there were a lot of really good things. I found a lot in myself that I knew I could just work a little bit harder, put a little bit more into it. The resiliency that I’ve been able to show, I really am happy. Right now, obviously, I’m happy with how this year is going. I wish the numbers weren’t what they were last year, but I’m happy that I went through it and made it through it and can look back and really draw on it to extend my career. That can be something I can really sit on and make sure that I say, ‘This was a defining moment, a moment that I can find a lot of positives in, as well.’”
Our ESPN.com coverage included a look at how Bears receiver Brandon Marshall has fared against the Packers and how they may try to cover him on Monday night. ... Also, remember two weeks ago, when coach Mike McCarthy’s message was "Keep calm and carry on"? Well, his message was much different this week. ... In addition to Crosby’s award, running back Eddie Lacy was named offensive rookie of the month for October. ... We also took a look at some impressive streaks the Packers have going and will put on the line against the Bears on Monday. ... In our daily injury report, it appears receiver James Jones is no closer to returning from his Oct. 13 knee injury.
ESPN colleague Kevin Seifert has a detailed breakdown of the Packers’ running game, including this nugget: “They have given their running backs 19 percent more carries than their average for the previous five years, and those backs – led by rookie Eddie Lacy – have produced 42 percent more yards than the five-year average.”
Almost everyone – save one – on our ESPN panel of experts picked the Packers to beat the Bears. See who the lone dissenter was.
At ESPNWisconsin.com, Jason Wilde went where McCarthy and the coaches have refused – into detail about how quarterback Aaron Rodgers changes plays so effectively at the line of scrimmage.
In the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Weston Hodkiewicz took a look at the Packers' cornerback position, which may be the deepest it’s been in years. ... Mike Vandermause wrote about the impact tight end Ryan Taylor’s return from a knee injury could have on the special-teams units.
In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Tyler Dunne wrote that rookie left tackle David Bakhtiari has faced a murderer’s row of pass rushers and has passed almost every test.