Kicker Chandler Catanzaro boots a field goal against the Bengals Sunday night.
Chandler Catanzaro believes he can succeed as a rookie kicker in the NFL by ignoring outside influences when lining up for important field goals.
"How many fans are at the game, how loud it is really doesn't faze me," Catanzaro said. "I kind of get in a zone and block everything out."
When Catanzaro learned Monday morning he had beaten out veteran Jay Feely for the kicking job with the Cardinals, he could not hide those same emotions.
"My whole family was just really ecstatic, as well as me," Catanzaro said. "I teared up a little bit. It's just a lifelong dream coming true for me."
Catanzaro went undrafted in May but the Cardinals made a strong push to sign him, even though Feely and Danny Hrapmann were already on the roster. He has been flawless this preseason, connecting on 4-of-4 field goals, 4-of-4 extra points and sending kickoffs deep and high into the end zone.
Catanzaro's stronger leg was the prevailing factor, as he displayed excellent kickoffs despite doing it sparingly in college at Clemson.
"I knew that was kind of my knock coming out, and I just worked my tail off," Catanzaro said. "I knew I had it in me, I just had to rep it, and rep it the right way. I knew I had that bomb in me. I'm very excited about where my kickoffs are right now."
He will be the sole kicker in Thursday's preseason finale in San Diego, his first work without competition since joining the team. Catanzaro said he received positive vibes about his place in the kicking competition the past few weeks, but even with Feely gone, is still not taking anything for granted.
"With this line of business you probably never know," Catanzaro said. "You've got to come out here every day and bring your 'A' game, and that's what I try to do. I try to take every kick in the game like the game-winner."
COOPER READY TO TEST TOE
Jonathan Cooper's turf toe injury on his right foot may linger the rest of the season, but the 2013 first-round pick seems prepared to test his pain threshold in a game. Cooper has practiced the past two days and could see the field for 20-25 snaps against the Chargers, coach Bruce Arians said.
"If he feels comfortable enough to play in this game, he'll have a good feel of what it's going to be like the rest of the year," Arians said.
Cooper was expected to be a shoo-in as the starter at left guard, but now may have to beat out Ted Larsen for the job after struggling in training camp prior to the injury.
"Honestly, rest is the last thing I'm concerned about right now," Cooper said. "I need to be out on the field, and that's what I'm focusing on – having a great game coming up against the Chargers. That's the biggest focus."
Linebacker Kevin Minter (pectoral) and nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu (knee) are also expected to play Thursday, Arians said, while safety Tyrann Mathieu (knee) could be a game-time decision. Arians said the injured players need to see the field in the preseason finale to have a chance at playing in the Monday Night Football opener against the Chargers on Sept. 8.
TAKING TIPS FROM THE GREATS
Arians was dissatisfied with the defensive line pressure in Sunday's loss to the Bengals, and some of the younger players have started to watch the pass-rushing moves of former NFL stars to improve in that area.
Pass-rushing specialist Tom Pratt began coaching in the league in 1963, so he has plenty of examples to show the Cardinals, no matter the body type. Arians said he has seen some improvement recently.
"Some guys are starting to play with their hands better, and striking," Arians said. "Especially Kareem (Martin), he's got those good long arms. Coach Pratt, he's got film of guys that go way back there, from (old-school Chiefs) Buck Buchanan to Curley Culp. Neil Smith is a really good guy to watch for Kareem because he was the same body type."
The Cardinals have a league-low three sacks in the preseason.