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Packers 90-man roster preview: Special teams look to continue improvement

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Green Bay appears to have established players manning the three specialist positions in 2016.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

As Acme Packing Company continues its look at the Green Bay Packers' 90-man roster, and today examines the special teams. The Packers should start 2016 with the same kicker, punter, and long-snapper that they ended 2015 with. Let's look at each of them in turn.

#2: Mason Crosby, K

6'1", 207 lbs

2015 stats: 108 points, FG 24/28 (85.7%), XP 36/36 (100%)

The 31-year old Crosby has proven to be a solid, reliable kicker over his nine-year career with Green Bay. The Packers rewarded the former sixth-round pick in March with a new four-year contract worth over $16 million. Obviously, the kicking job will be Crosby's for the 2016 season. In 2015, Crosby showed no signs of regression. Using average kick-off distance as a gauge for leg strength, Crosby averaged 63.4 yards per kickoff last year, which was exactly his average over his entire career. His accuracy (85.7%) on field goals tied for his second best rate of his career and he was one of the few NFL kickers that were perfect from the new distance for extra points. There were 71 missed extra points in 2015. Impressively, Crosby was also 4-5 (80 %) from beyond 50 yards. Green Bay's kicking game should be in good yet again in 2016.

#8: Tim Masthay, P

6'1", 200 lbs

2015 stats: 81 punts, 43.9 ave, 40.2 net ave.

Masthay returns for his seventh season as a Packer. He finished last year with a 43.9 yards per punt average. It tied for his fourth best average of his six-year career, but special teams coordinator Ron Zook said following the season that Masthay was "... very, very unselfish. We asked him to do some things rather than worry about gross punt. Let's get net." And that's exactly what Masthay did. His 40.2 net average set a new single-season Packer record, breaking Jerry Norton's 1963 mark of 39.2. To put Masthay's mark in perspective, consider that previous Packer punters, Jon Ryan, Josh Bidwell, and Craig Hentrich never came within a yard of Horton's record. Although occasionally erratic, Masthay has proven he still has the leg and hang-time (average 4.11) for the NFL.

#59: Rick Lovato, LS

6'2", 249 lbs

Rick Lovato signed a 2-year deal last year with two games remaining in Green Bay's regular season schedule. His signing came a few days after long-time Packer long-snapper Brett Goode tore the ACL in his knee. Zook was "proud" of Lavato's performance at a critical time of the season. Lovato remains the only long-snapper under contract in spite of Zook's desire to have Goode return to the roster.