GREEN BAY — Matt LaFleur says the Green Bay Packers’ struggles with their field goal operation aren’t causing him to alter his decision-making.
The Packers coach may opt to be more aggressive when on the fence about attempting field goals or going for it on fourth down in opponents’ territory, he acknowledged Monday, one day after the field goal unit — kicker Mason Crosby, holder Corey Bojorquez and long-snapper Steven Wirtel — saw its struggles continue with a 42-yard miss during the first half against the Seattle Seahawks. Crosby has now missed seven field goal attempts this season after missing just two in the previous two years combined.
“I don’t know necessarily if it changes how you call (a game), but maybe some of the decisions that you’re making in those situations, you might want to be a little bit more aggressive on a fourth down,” LaFleur said. “I feel like we’ve been somewhat aggressive, but I’ve got a lot of confidence in Mason and in that entire unit to go out there and get it done. So as of right now, I would say it’s not having a huge impact on our decisions that we’re making on game day.”
The Packers didn’t make any personnel changes before facing the Seahawks, but Borjorquez did take over as the holder just before the season began when he replaced incumbent punter JK Scott, and Wirtel took over as the snapper before the Chiefs game when he was promoted from the practice squad following the release of Hunter Bradley, who’d been the snapper since 2018.
On film, it didn’t appear the snap or the hold were bad on the 42-yard miss Sunday, although LaFleur suggested that Crosby’s approach was a hair early, as if he may have been expecting Wirtel to send the ball back to Bojorquez earlier than he did.
“I think that was one of those things where maybe the timing was just a little bit off. Because when I watched the tape, you could see ‘Mase’ started to lean a little bit forward anticipating the snap,” LaFleur said. “We’ve got to obviously get that corrected because you never want to have that impact a game. And it has, I guess you could say, potentially two weeks in a row.”
LaFleur was thrilled with the play of cornerback Kevin King, who had one of the Packers’ two end zone interceptions — safety Adrian Amos had the other — while sharing time outside with Rasul Douglas. While rookie first-round pick Eric Stokes and slot cornerback Chandon Sullivan both played all 61 defensive snaps against the Seahawks, King played 20 (33%) while Douglas played 42 (69%).
King was playing in only his fifth game this season after suffering a concussion against Detroit on Sept. 20 and a shoulder injury against Cincinnati on Oct. 10. With the team still hoping that second-team All-Pro cornerback Jaire Alexander will return from his shoulder injury later this year, defensive coordinator Joe Barry and defensive backs coach Jerry Gray will have to figure out how to set up a job-sharing arrangement at the position.
“Just put ‘em all out there,” LaFleur joked. “I think, as a whole, obviously the defense has been playing really well. But I think really specifically, the defensive backfield has done an outstanding job. … It is a challenge, but it’s a good problem to have.”
Having held off another week on reinserting five-time All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari into the lineup, LaFleur sounded like Bakhtiari is on course to make his season debut against Minnesota on Sunday. Bakhtiari was activated from the physically unable to perform list last week but was listed as doubtful and was inactive against the Seahawks, and he hasn’t played since tearing the ACL in his left knee during a Dec. 31 practice.
When Bakhtiari does return, left guard-turned-left tackle Elgton Jenkins will move back inside, either to his usual guard spot or to center, depending which of the Packers’ three interior starters (right guard Royce Newman, center Lucas Patrick or left guard Jon Runyan) is sent to the bench.
The Packers released veteran quarterback Blake Bortles from the practice squad Monday as they activated No. 3 quarterback Kurt Benkert from the practice squad reserve/COVID-19 list. Benkert tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 1, two days before starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers did. … The Packers worked out three players on Monday, according to ESPN: Ex-Idaho linebacker Christian Elliss, ex-Florida Atlantic running back Kerrith Whyte and ex-UCLA tight end Caleb Wilson.