Yesterday, Kevin examined the projections for the Packers' Offensive Line. Today I will address a much more straightforward topic: the Packers' specialists.
Locked-in starters: K Mason Crosby, P Tim Masthay, LS Brett Goode
Each of these three players has been on the roster for at least two seasons - Crosby for five, Goode for four, and Masthay for two. Crosby signed a five-year contract last summer after the lockout ended, and he's shaken some inconsistencies to become one of the more reliable kickers in the NFL. Masthay improved from his rookie year in 2010 to post the best gross punting average in Packers history last season at 45.6 yards (breaking Craig Hentrich's 1997 record of 45.0). Goode hasn't made a bad snap in his four years as the Packers heir to Rob Davis.
Job security: Ironclad
The Packers haven't signed a second player to even practice at any of these three positions. Kevin put it best yesterday: only injury or arrest will keep these guys off the roster.
Roster spots left: 26
Primary Kick/Punt Returner: Randall Cobb
Cobb's barrel roll in week one last season was the most emphatic "I'm here!" moment of the season. The team has the depth at wide receiver that Cobb doesn't need to pull double duty as a starter on offense,
Job security: Strong
There's a possibility that with an increased role on offense, Cobb may not line up as the primary kick or punt returner in every game, but that likelihood is slim. It's one of his greatest strengths, and Will Blackmon is the only other Packer to have two kick or punt return touchdowns in a season since 1998. In fact, Cobb's opening-week kick return TD was the first kickoff return for a score since Allen Rossum took one to the house in 2000. Dude's job is safe. In any case, we've already determined that he'll be on the roster in the Wide Receivers post, so he doesn't count against the tally here.