The Green Bay Packers aren’t taking any chances when it comes to their kicking situation for the upcoming 2020-21 playoffs.
The Packers announced Tuesday afternoon the signing of former UCLA kicker JJ Molson to their practice squad, giving them a genuine backup option for veteran Mason Crosby should an emergency situation arise throughout the postseason. He had already been in Green Bay for a visit with the team last Thursday.
Molson, who will wear No. 9 for the Packers, is a rookie with a decent collegiate record (51 of 74 field goals) still looking to make his way in the NFL. He previously spent a little bit of time earlier in December with the Los Angeles Chargers’ practice squad, but his arrival in Green Bay should be longer-term unless the Packers have a change of heart before the playoffs.
No change in salary cap cost. https://t.co/S1g7LSVKxp
— Ken Ingalls – Packers Cap 💰 (@KenIngalls) December 22, 2020
The Packers also released center Anthony Fabiano from the practice squad in a corresponding move on the same day veteran starter Corey Linsley, currently on injured reserve, returned to practice. According to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, Linsley was practicing with a sleeve on his injured knee (MCL sprain) during Tuesday’s portion of the session open to media.
Linsley is eligible to return from IR this week after missing the past three games, but the Packers could take their time bringing him back with a 21-day activation window and an inside track to the NFC’s top playoff seed. They do currently have one space available on their 53-man roster.
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Molson Was Drafted … into CFL
Molson went 51-for-74 on field goals during his four years with the Bruins and finished his career with 90 consecutive extra-point makes. The only time he ever missed a PAT attempt in that span was during a 2019 road game against Washington. He also finished sixth on the all-time lists for most field goals and most points scored (304) in program history.
Molson’s solid resume was enough to get him drafted, just not into the NFL. After Molson went unselected in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats took him with a seventh-round pick during the CFL’s draft later in the year. Unfortunately, the 2020 CFL season was canceled earlier this year, leaving Molson looking for a job as an undrafted NFL rookie.
Crosby Remains Excellent No. 1
While Molson is nice to have just in case, the Packers are no doubt hoping nothing takes Crosby away from their team. The 36-year-old veteran has been automatic for their team on field goals this season with a perfect 16-for-16 clipping on field goals and four makes from beyond 50 yards. He is also 50 for 53 on extra points with none of his misses coming in losses.
No such safeguards were put in place during their 2019 playoff run, but things are different this postseason with the COVID-19 rules in place. Even being around the wrong person at the wrong time can take a player out of a team’s lineup on short notice, which the Packers know well from earlier this year when several guys were ruled out as high-risk close contacts.
Up until now, the Packers have compensated for having just one kicker and one punter on their rosters by bringing in workout players on a weekly basis, essentially putting replacement options through all the necessary testing procedures in case a last-minute signing were to become necessary. They did, in fact, sign Drew Kiser as their emergency punter in late November when J.K. Scott was expecting the birth of a child; though, he didn’t play.