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At 50, Matt Prater Remains Confident In His Big Leg

Cardinals kicker's bombs adding to NFL all-time lead in long field goals

Kicker Matt Prater (5) sneaks a peak at his 56-yard field goal Sunday night.
Kicker Matt Prater (5) sneaks a peak at his 56-yard field goal Sunday night.

No player in NFL history has made more field goals from 50 yards and beyond than Matt Prater.

The Cardinals kicker has added to that total this season – it just took a little more time than usual.

Prater, who missed four games earlier this season because of a lingering hip issue, didn't even get a try from 50 yards until the Monday night Patriots game, in which he missed from 50. But against the Broncos, Prater drilled tries from 50 and 55, and against the Buccaneers on Christmas, he nailed attempts from 53 and 56 yards.

"It's football," Prater said. "You never know what you're going to get to do, especially as a kicker. You don't get to control the situations you're put in. You have to make the best of when you do get to kick. So whether it's an extra point or a 50-yarder, I expect to make them all."

He's nearly done that this season, year No. 16 in the NFL and Prater at age 38. He's made 18-of-20 field goals and all 15 extra-point tries.

But the hip flexor was an issue. The Cardinals have used three other kickers this season – Matt Ammendola, Rodrigo Blankenship and Tristan Vizcaino – treading water until Prater came back.

"He's one of those guys that hates to sit out," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "He feels like he's letting everybody down if he's not out there, and he pushed through there for a couple games.

"Watching him practice, watching him swing and talking to him about his confidence, he feels really confident right now and he's hit some big kicks."

The confidence was high enough that Prater was hoping for a long field goal try – maybe as far as 68 or 69 yards – at the end of regulation against the Bucs.

"There's no doubt he would've been game for it," Kingsbury said.

It was too long to risk. Even Prater acknowledged that. But the operation has been good. That's why the season-ending injury to long snapper Aaron Brewer causes pause. The Cardinals added long snapper Hunter Bradley to the practice squad, and he'll be elevated each of the last two games.

"It's tough when there is a change in it," Prater said. "Brewer is one of my closest friends on and off the field. I'm sad for him, but hopefully after the surgery he'll come back stronger and ready to go. It sucks. There is no other way to say it. But Hunter has experience so it's cool having him."

Prater wants to keep kicking at age 39, but acknowledged it is out of his control if the Cardinals want to bring him back. He's up to 70 career field goals of at least 50 yards, a nice number but one upon which he'd like to build in 2023.

At least he has gotten healthier. As a kicker, he doesn't want to complain.

"I attack the ball, I do swing hard," Prater said. "But it's not as violent as these (teammates) getting hit."

Images of the Cardinals practicing at the Dignity Health Sports Complex before the Week 17 regular season matchup against the Atlanta Falcons

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