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Bryan Bulaga, Mason Crosby shine on Packers' Family Night

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Two years ago, the Green Bay Packers' annual Family Night was a disaster for Bryan Bulaga and Mason Crosby.

The right tackle blew out his knee and the kicker nearly blew his job.

Fast-forward to Saturday night, and they were among the happiest players in the locker room.

Family Night has changed since then -- it was a full-on scrimmage in 2013, but coach Mike McCarthy switched it a regular practice last year -- but Bulaga nevertheless couldn't help but feel somewhat relieved as he took off the brace that he still wears to protect his surgically repaired left knee.

"I know last year was a big mental hurdle for me on this night," Bulaga said. "I think every time I come back out here on Family Night it will be a little bit of a mental battle with myself. Just get out here and compete and have fun and stay healthy. That's really, when I look at Family Night, that’s how I look at it."

Bulaga is off to an excellent start in camp. He's the only player (on offense or defense) with an undefeated record in the one-on-one pass blocking/pass rushing drill.

On the other end of the locker room, Crosby was happy to recount his perfect night, when he nailed all eight of his field goals after public address announcer Bill Jartz told the crowd of 67,191 that McCarthy wanted plenty of noise for that final drill of practice.

Two years after Crosby's job was seemingly in jeopardy after a 3-for-8 performance on Family Night that followed his worst season in 2012, he looked ready for the regular-season opener.

"It was good to get out there tonight and get on Lambeau Field and hit some good kicks," said Crosby, who improved to 28-of-32 on field goals so far during training camp. "Obviously, building something here pretty special, and wanted to just continue that process. I just kind of want to keep climbing as we go forward, and keep hitting the ball the way I am coming into the end of camp here."

Here are other notes from Family Night:

  • Defense wins the day: Not only did the defense win the two-minute drill, stopping the Scott Tolzien-led No. 2 offense on downs at the 22-yard line with 8 seconds remaining, but it also picked off two passes during 11-on-11 drills. Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix picked off Aaron Rodgers' first pass of the night, a corner route for Davante Adams. Cornerback Tay Glover-Wright then intercepted a Tolzien pass that was slightly behind receiver Jimmie Hunt, who dropped it.

  • QB stats: Rodgers finished 3-for-6 with one interception during the 11-on-11 periods. It was his sixth interception of camp. Tolzien was 6-for-11 with one interception. Matt Blanchard was 1-for-4, while rookie Brett Hundley was 0-for-2. Combined, the quarterbacks were 10-for-23 with two interceptions. Those stats do not count the throws made in the so-called "pass-under-pressure" periods because those are 11-on-9.

  • A case of the drops: The passing stats suffered from three drops during the team periods -- one each by Hunt, Javess Blue and Larry Pinkard. There were at least two other drops in pass under pressure -- one each by Jeff Janis and Justin Perillo. "A drop’s a drop," McCarthy said after practice. "We've had eight practices, they're all graded the same, but to your point, to catch the ball at night, under the lights, full crowd, 67,000 people in the stands is definitely a different training environment. We're trying to get as game-ready as we can. We're fortunate to have that opportunity for our guys."

  • Punting competition: Incumbent Tim Masthay and challenger Cody Mandell each got three punts from the 35-yard line. Masthay averaged 41.3 yards and 4.58 seconds of hang time, while Mandell averaged 35.3 yards and 4.67 seconds.

  • Medical report: Add defensive tackle Letroy Guion (hamstring) to the injury list. He did not participate. Others who did not dress were: receiver Adrian Coxson (concussion), receiver Ricky Collins (heel), outside linebacker Adrian Hubbard (groin), tackle Vince Kowalski (concussion), linebacker Clay Matthews (knee), linebacker Nick Perry (groin), defensive tackle Mike Pennel (groin), receiver Jared Abbrederis (concussion), linebacker Jayrone Elliott (shoulder) and outside linebacker Mike Neal (abdomen). Also, Blue dropped out of practice after a sideline collision with team employee Kandi Goltz, who appeared to sustain a lower-leg injury.

  • Impressive scene: Rookie linebacker Jake Ryan regularly played in front of massive crowds at the University of Michigan, but even he was impressed by the atmosphere at the sold-out practice. "It's incredible, just the atmosphere in there is awesome," Ryan said. "Coming from a Big Ten school playing in front of a 110,000, but we never had 67,000 for a practice."