Cardinals kicker Chandler Catanzaro kicks off in a game against the Rams last season.
Chandler Catanzaro has a bag of specialty kicks that, for the most part, have yet to see the light of day in the NFL.
In the ensuing months, the Cardinals kicker will join special teams coach Amos Jones in deciding whether it's wise to use one of them regularly in 2016.
Touchbacks on kickoffs have been moved up from the 20- to the 25-yard-line for 2016, increasing the likelihood that a
returner simply takes a knee instead of trying a return. NFL teams are now debating whether "mortar kicks" are worth using to try to combat the field position advantage given by the new rule.
In those kicks, the ball is aimed shorter and with more hang time to force a return. The math is fuzzy right now as to which scenario puts the defense in the best field position.
"We're crunching the numbers, doing a lot of bar graphs," Catanzaro joked. "No, I'm just kidding. We're just checking the statistics and seeing the ones that I kicked into the end zone but were brought out – if they were brought out to around the 20 versus the 25, and what was the success rate of the defense on stopping them and keeping them from scoring points. So we're putting it all together."
The mortar kicks can be tricky compared to kicking it as hard as possible, so it might not be worth it. Catanzaro said he's always had that type of kickoff in his arsenal and will continue to practice it. The team's strategy could vary depending on the opponent, the returner or the game situation.
"Obviously, field position is huge," Catanzaro said. "We obviously have a strong defense, and anything helps."
The extra point has been moved back to the 15-yard-line permanently now, which will also affect Catanzaro. He was eighth in the NFL in field goal accuracy last year at 90.3 percent but only 27th in extra-point percentage at 91.4 percent.
The five misses caught the ire of coach Bruce Arians at one point, although he later felt he was too harsh after noticing that other kickers missed their fair share, too. Catanzaro said only a small adjustment is needed to have more success on extra points in 2016.
"The change was made permanent, and that's a challenge I'm looking forward to moving forward," Catanzaro said. "Obviously, last year five was too many. I'm just kind of finding my groove. Honestly, the five that I missed, one I pulled too quick. The four that I pushed right, they were the exact same every time, just spinny and a little right. It's not like it's a huge issue or huge problem. It's very fixable. That's what I've been doing this offseason, just getting ready for the year."