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Alumni in the News: Kicking competition heats up with addition of Ramirez
Author: By Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel
Posted: August 26, 2013

Zach Ramirez '13 graduated with a Bachelor's degree from Portland State University's College of Urban and Public Affairs.

Read the original article here.

Green Bay - Zach Ramirez was called in for a tryout last week after Mason Crosby had a bad practice Wednesday morning and had no idea whether it was his shot to make his first NFL roster or a standard workout teams do to update their free agent lists.

But after watching Ramirez go through the paces inside the Don Hutson Center, general manager Ted Thompson went to coach Mike McCarthy and suggested they take a longer look at the former Portland State kicker. So Ramirez was signed, giving the Packers the same number of kickers as quartertbacks (three).

"It heightens the competition," McCarthy said.

Whether it answered any questions about the kicking game is another thing altogether.

The kickers - Mason Crosby, Giorgio Tavecchio and Ramirez - took part in a marathon field-goal session in which special teams coach Shawn Slocum had them kick from 11 spots on the field with crowd noise blaring.

There was a strong wind at their backs, but it also had a diagonal path they had to deal with.

The range of their kicks was 34 to 63 yards with each one getting 11 attempts. Here are the final results:

  • Crosby - 10 of 11 (missed from 53, right hash, left)
  • Tavecchio -  9 of 11 (missed from 45 RH, right, and 63 RH, left)
  • Ramirez - 10 of 11 (missed from 53 RH, left)

According to McCarthy the situation is not muddled after all three had stellar performances.

"I don't think the kicking situation confuses things," McCarthy said. "Mason had his best day."

Ramirez said he was woken Thursday by a phone call from the Packers offering him a tryout opportunity Sunday. Since ending his tenure at Portland State, the only sniff of an NFL contract he has had was a three-day tryout during Seattle's rookie orientation camp.

During his senior season, Ramirez was run into on his very first kick of the year - an extra point - and suffered a torn MCL in his kicking (right) leg. He returned later in the season, but even as late as the Seahawks camp he said he wasn't hitting the ball like he had in the past.

Apparently, that has changed because on one of his kickoffs Sunday, he hit the fence behind the goal posts on the north end of Ray Nitschke Field. The wind was a factor, but the fact he probably kicked a dozen field goals in his tryout and then 11 more in practice, the fact he missed just one in a pressure situation was impressive.

He'll probably get a chance to kick against Kansas City on Thursday night.

"That's all I wanted was another opportunity," said Ramirez, who was the Big Sky's top kicker in 2011, hitting 24 of 27 field goal attempts (88.9%). "I went to Seattle and got a shot and they didn't like what I did. They didn't really explain it. They just said they felt like this other guy kicked better than me.

"It's been a little frustrating (waiting for another call)."

Ramirez said he had been kicking at his high school and also helping out the kickers at Portland State. He went to kicking guru Chris Sailer's camp in the spring and said he feels he has gotten back to where he is hitting the ball well.

He said when he packed for Green Bay he brought four T-shirts and four pair of pants. He said he was hoping he would have to stay there a long time.

"When I packing, I was hoping I would be staying here as my lifting coach said, 20 years." Ramirez said. "But I did not pack that much."

Crosby, meanwhile, said he hit the ball well and was extremely pleased with the balls he hit from long distances, including a 63-yarder that would have been good from much farther.

 

"It felt great," Crosby said. "I think I cleared the net. Those two long ones came off my foot exactly the way I wanted. Those are the type of kicks I want to see."