Green Bay, Wis. — Mason Crosby and Tim Masthay have lived this movie before. And the Green Bay Packers specialists and close friends both loved the ending.
Now, Masthay and Crosby have swapped roles. And whether Masthay, a former Murray High School and University of Kentucky standout punter, can excel as the leading actor will determine whether the sequel can be as successful as the original.
Crosby, coming off a brutal 2012, faced stiff competition for his job during training camp in 2013.
Crosby met every challenge that summer, though, and has made 69 of 79 field goals over the past two seasons (87.3 percent), including the playoffs.
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Masthay struggled mightily in the second half of 2014, prompting the Packers to sign free agent Cody Mandell eight days after the season ended. So for the first time since arriving in 2010, Masthay faces real competition for his job.
His goal will be to respond as well as Crosby did — and help lead Green Bay's miserable special teams back toward respectability.
"Hopefully I will do the same thing that Mason did," Masthay said. "That's the goal. It's helpful to me just to know he's in my corner, and it's the same thing with (long snapper) Brett (Goode).
"We have a close bond, which is helpful that way. But Mason and I have chatted a little bit about how it feels to go through that. And that's certainly been helpful."
Masthay was a model of consistency during his first four years in Green Bay. And 2014 seemed like just another year when Masthay ranked seventh in gross average at midseason (47.0) and 10th in net (40.8).
But as the Packers' special teams began melting down, so did Masthay.
He finished 27th in gross average (44.1) and 31st in net (37.0). His percentage of punts inside the 20-yard line (28.6 percent) was a career low.
Green Bay's protection was brutal, too, leading to a pair of blocked punts and a crisis of confidence for Masthay.
"When we got midway through the season and we had two punts blocked, I really started rushing things," Masthay said. "And then I was kind of experimenting a lot, which I'd never really done that too much during the season. In the offseason, certainly. But I was experimenting too much for during the season.
"Just too many thoughts, too many negative thoughts. That's pretty much what happened. That's the way I feel about it. So I messed up in that regard. At the end of the day it comes down to me getting the job done. Any mistakes made in that regard are 100 percent my own."
Crosby certainly can relate. And he could prove to be the ideal sounding board for Masthay this summer.
Crosby rolled through the first five years of his career, making 139 of 175 kicks (79.4 percent). Then almost inexplicably, Crosby hit a funk in 2012 and made just 23 of 35 attempts (65.7 percent).
The paying customers called for Crosby's head, and he was forced to battle Giorgio Tavecchio and Zach Ramirez for his job the following summer. Heck, Crosby even restructured his contract in the process.
But not only did Crosby hold off his competitors, he's been better than ever the past two years.
"I just want (Masthay) to be successful and not to dwell on the things of what could be and what might be," Crosby said. "Just go out every day and perform. I think it's almost more of an unspoken thing.
"He knows what he needs to do; he knows he needs to work hard, stay within himself, all those things.
"He was such a support to me through all those times. Worrying about what might happen are just thoughts that are negative and won't be helpful.
"And I think Tim has done a great job of working hard this off-season and putting last year, some of the different circumstances that came about, behind him and moving on and being productive."
There's no reason to think Masthay can't regain his previous form.
During his first four seasons, he averaged 44.3 yards per punt with a net of 38.7. He landed 38.5 percent of his punts inside the 20 and had just one punt blocked.
"He got in a little rut last year," new Packers special teams coach Ron Zook said. "I think part of it was we went through two games where we didn't punt the football. I don't know that that's ever happened.
"You say, well, you warm up during the game and you do all of that stuff, but actually going out there and punting the football in the game, you can get out of your sync a little bit there and your rhythm. The way he's punting it now, he's hitting the ball.
"The one thing is these guys are professionals. They know what it takes. You've got a 13-inch object that falls funny, and the wind and all of those kinds of things, it doesn't always go where you want it to go. ... We'll go forward from here."
Moving forward for Masthay now means battling Mandell for his job.
The 6-foot-2, 217-pound Mandell was a walk-on at Alabama who developed into a first-team all-Southeastern Conference player by his senior year. Mandell also was a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award that season and averaged 42.6 yards per punt for his career.
Mandell went undrafted, then spent part of the 2014 offseason with the Dallas Cowboys. He punted three times in the Cowboys' 2014 preseason opener, averaging 43.7 yards per punt with a net of 42.0.
Mandell has "a lot of confidence," Zook said. "I think he's fit right in. I think Tim and Mason and Brett really have taken him in. It's been a good room."
Masthay spent his offseason working on his control of the football and improving some technical aspects of his game. He refused to blame former special teams coach Shawn Slocum for his slide, placing all responsibility on his own shoulders.
Now, Masthay is excited for the opportunity to rebound — much like his close pal Crosby did two years ago.
"The second half of the (2014) season is the only real stretch I've not performed well enough," Masthay said. "Certainly I want to get back to performing better and I want to perform better than I ever have.
"So that's my goal, and I'm anxious to try to prove I can do that."