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Different Football At Estadio Azteca, And Saturday Before Mexico (And 49ers)

Neil Rackers could've tied the record if Dennis Green had just said yes.

Rackers kicked six field goals the last time the Cardinals played in Mexico City, back in October of 2005. The record was seven – first set by the Cardinals' Jim Bakken in 1967, by the way – and the Cardinals got all the way down to the San Francisco 13-yard line before running out the clock. Sure, the Cards didn't need any points with a 31-14 lead, but it would've been the record. (The late Rob Bironas eventually kicked eight field goals in a game for the Titans in 2007.)

The Cardinals are going back to Mexico this weekend for a Monday night game. This time, the Cardinals have Matt Prater kicking – the man who once kicked a 64-yard field goal, the man who spent eight years kicking in the altitude of the mile-high city of Denver, which is still 2,000 feet lower than Mexico City.

"With the altitude, the ball flies a little further so I'm excited to test that pregame and we will see what we can do," said Prater, who missed last week's game with an illness.

Because of their love of soccer, it is the kickers – make or miss – that usually create the loudest moments at Estadio Azteca. Prater expects no difference this time.

Prater said he had heard Rackers had connected on kicks from 70- and 75-yards in pregame back in 2005. He will test out his range pregame on Monday, noting that in good conditions in Denver, the thin air added about five yards to his boots. The NFL record for longest field goal is 66 yards, by Baltimore's Justin Tucker.

"Maybe a 70-yarder at the end of the half or the game, it'd be awesome to get that attempt," Prater said, "but it has to play out perfect for that to happen."

-- There was no open practice to watch Saturday. Judging by what little we saw this week as well as what Kliff Kingsbury said, my guess is that Colt McCoy is fine to play and it will come down to whether everyone is comfortable with Kyler Murray playing or not. Murray will start if possible.

-- I do think DeAndre Hopkins will play, although the fact he is listed with a hamstring injury after he missed so much time with a hamstring injury naturally gives you pause. I also think the Cardinals will have Hollywood Brown, although I don't know if he'd play the full complement of snaps.

-- Hop needs 23 yards to reach 11,000 in his receiving career.

-- Not having D.J. Humphries against Nick Bosa isn't great, although Josh Jones has been pretty solid thus far. That he (and Byron Murphy) are still dealing with back injuries is a concern. Everyone is different with back issues -- and I know given my back troubles -- but Justin Murray missed most of the season last year because of his back.

-- Tight end Zach Ertz announced on Instagram he had his knee surgery, so the rehab begins now.

-- Amid reports that Eno Benjamin's eventual release evolved from a frustration with playing time, Kingsbury was asked if there was generally a right way to approach and talk to coaches about playing time.

"It's case by case, but coaches want to do the best job they can by playing the best players they can and maximizing their personnel," Kingsbury said. "Sometimes we're right and sometimes we're wrong, but you have to be able to ultimately get on the same page. If you don't like your situation (then) you've got to work harder and do right by the team, your teammates and your coaches. There's a lot of different ways to do it. You see it all the time in this day and age that it gets done, but I don't have the exact answer. I think, like I said, it's case by case and (from) what I've seen is if you really want to be on the field, you earn the time and you prove to your coaches that you deserve to be out there."

-- GM Steve Keim, by the way, also wouldn't say anything specific about Benjamin. Asked about it during his appearance on the "Burns and Gambo" show on Arizona Sports, Keim would only answer that the he wished Benjamin well in Houston.

-- Kingsbury said Corey Clement will be brought up to be a third running back behind James Conner and rookie Keaontay Ingram. Ingram wore a smile Friday as he talked about getting a chance to be the backup for the second time – he was Benjamin's backup when Conner was hurt.

"We are human," Ingram said. "Of course everyone wants the ball, wants to get in the game, wants to play. But just knowing your role within the team, put your pride to the side a little bit, and go out and get better. That's how I have attacked it as a rookie, and now I'm No. 2, so I guess we've got to keep it going."

-- Yes, I was at the first Mexico game. There are a few of us that have been around long enough to go back. But as a player? Yep. Cardinals punter Andy Lee was 23 and in his second year with the 49ers and kicked against the Cardinals that night. (Cardinals assistant coaches Vance Joseph, Jeff Rodgers and Bill Davis were all on San Francisco's staff that night too.)

-- The Cardinals thus far have used 76 different players in at least one game this season, the most in the NFL.

-- The last word belongs to defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, when the former Broncos head coach said dealing with the altitude in Mexico City was a "mindset" more than anything.

"I didn't win much as a head coach there, so it didn't matter much in Denver," Joseph said with a chuckle. "It's a mindset. It's like going from the West to the East Coast. Some teams go Friday, some teams go Saturday. If you show up and play good, you win. That's the bottom line."

See you Monday from Estadio Azteca.

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) and Arizona Cardinals quarterback Colt McCoy (12) during practice at the Dignity Health Sports Complex on Thursday, November 17, 2022 in Tempe, AZ.