Greg Joseph’s experience in big moments could be advantage in Packers’ kicker competition

By: Paul Bretl 6/6/24

The three-way battle between Anders Carlson, Greg Joseph, and Jack Podlesny for the Packers’ starting kicking job is well underway, and through OTAs, it’s been a tight competition, with each player having his day.

“Like I mentioned before,” said Matt LaFleur after Tuesday’s practice, “it’s just the consistency day in and day out and I think all those guys have had their own moments where they’ve kind of won the day and it’s a tight battle.”

At kicker, there is no backup. One of these players will be playing in Brazil come Week 1, and the other two will likely be at home. Every practice, there is pressure to perform, and from an experience standpoint, Joseph has the edge over his counterparts.

Joseph has been in the NFL since 2018 after going undrafted out of Florida Atlantic. He has been in training camp competitions before and has attempted far more game-winners than Carlson and Podlesny. In 2022 alone, Joseph made five game-winning field goals, including a 61-yarder against the New York Giants.

“That was a fun one, for sure,” said Joseph of the 2022 season. “Just taking in, cherishing every team win, every moment, every opportunity you get like that, they’re all fun and all fond memories I’ll hold forever.”

Joseph has spent the last three seasons with the Vikings. Over his career, he has made 83 percent of his field goal attempts and has been extremely reliable on kicks under 40 yards, missing only one of his 65 attempts.

From 40-plus yards, however, Joseph is only 38-of-50, including 16-for-28 from over 50 yards. Playing in Cleveland in 2018, Joseph does have experience kicking in the elements, but he is just 3-for-7 in his career at Lambeau Field.

“We’re just trying to get him to be a little bit better, right?,” said Rich Bisaccia. “He’s been an indoor kicker now for a while, so being here is a little bit interesting. In our conversation with him, he hasn’t played well here, the two years I’ve been here. We blocked one, he missed one.

“So him playing in these conditions is a little bit different for him, as well. He’s got a tremendous leg. He’s got a great mindset. So, it’s been a good competition to this point. We expect it to stay that way for as long as Brian keeps three.”

Throughout much of OTAs, the Packers have had only two kickers participating in each practice, rotating who sits out. The reason behind this is to make sure each kicker gets enough reps when on the practice field.

Naturally, in the midst of a positional battle, it could be easy to watch how your counterparts are performing to keep tabs on where you stand in comparison. But Joseph remains fixated on his own performance and does his best not to closely follow how Carlson or Podlesny are performing.

“I have nothing bad to say about any of them. All good guys,” Joseph said. “The group all gets along great. We all learn from each other, push each other, etc.

“I just decide to stay in my own little world because that’s what I feel do best in a competition is just worrying about me. I don’t know how they’re doing; I only know how Greg Joseph is doing, and I’m going to keep it that way.”

Tuesday was just the second time all three kickers were a part of the same practice. As LaFleur said afterward, this provides a more “apples-to-apples” comparison, with each kicker dealing with the same conditions.

All three kickers had solid days. Podlesny would make 5-of-7 attempts, while Joseph and Carlson were each 6-for-7.  In an effort to create a more hectic environment, practice would conclude with each kicker making a 53-yard attempt with their teammates huddled closley around them, yelling, splashing water, all while the music was blaring. Joseph and Podlesny would both miss to the left, but Carlson would make his before being swarmed by his teammates.

“Obviously, that doesn’t happen during a game so it’s not really game-like but, still, got to do better on each kick,” said Joseph. “Put together a good day before then; just didn’t see my eyes fully through on that one. Got to get better.”

Joseph is currently wearing the No. 2, just as Mason Crosby did for all those years. It wasn’t Joseph’s choice, it was the number handed to him when he arrived, but he did speak to Crosby about it, and got to go-ahead to wear it.

“We’ll see what happens when I make the team, jersey-wise,” Joseph said.

If Joseph is going to be the Packers’ kicker this season, he’ll have to outperform Carlson and Podlesny over the summer. However, Joseph isn’t all that concerned with how each of them is performing. Instead, his sole focus is on himself and controlling what Greg Joseph does.

“That’s where I really learned to focus on me,” said Joseph on his past experiences with kicking competitions. “Some guys might thrive off watching other people kick. I thrive in being in my own world because that’s where I really learn it’s me vs. me and focus on what I do and to get better on what I do each and every day, because that’s the only thing I can control.

“I don’t control what they do or anything outside of what Greg Joseph does kicking-wise.”