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'Skinny' Goalposts Help Kicker Matt Prater Thrive

Notes: Ito Smith will help with preseason carries; team signs DL Kilgo

Kicker Matt Prater takes a field-goal attempt in Monday's practice with his special "skinny" goalposts in front of the regular uprights.
Kicker Matt Prater takes a field-goal attempt in Monday's practice with his special "skinny" goalposts in front of the regular uprights.

The goalposts are the same bright yellow on any NFL field – they are just a lot skinnier.

And that's what Matt Prater works with whenever he practices his field goals, for an "aim small, miss small-type of thing," the veteran kicker said.

Regular NFL goal posts are 18 feet, six inches wide. Prater's special ones, which can be wheeled out and centered between the normal goal posts when Prater is training, are nine feet wide. He first started using them when he played in Denver, when then-long snapper Lonnie Paxton arrived from New England and brought the concept to the Broncos.

"Ever since then I've tried to kick on those," said Prater, who added that it was one of the first things he asked for from the Cardinals after signing as a free agent. "Especially when you line up for a longer kick, like a 50-yarder, you look at the skinny posts and you're like, 'I don't know about this one.' It's definitely a good visual."

Prater only made 21-of-28 field goals a year ago for the Lions, but he's made 83.2 percent of his field goal tries in his career and remains effective from long range. He said this week he'd love to get another try at the longest field goal record, which he currently owns at 64 yards.

Training on the skinny goalposts helps hone his accuracy, even from far away.

"After looking at those all week, when I get to the stadium Sunday, (the goalposts) look huge," Prater said.

The Cardinals are hoping to have more consistency in the kicking game, after Zane Gonzalez missed a couple of key kicks in 2020. But coach Kliff Kingsbury knows, like any other position, to expect perfection out of a kicker is an unfair bar to set.

"Really it's just making sure everybody understands it's a team sport and it's never going to come down to just that one play," Kingsbury said. "There is always a handful of opportunities that could have won or lost the game."

SMITH ARRIVAL MAY MEAN LITTLE EDMONDS, CONNER IN PRESEASON

The Cardinals signed veteran running back Ito Smith last week, but the move may be more about who was already on the roster rather than shaking the competition up.

Kingsbury said the Cardinals "needed some bodies going into the preseason." The Cardinals are unsure how many snaps they will play the top two backs, Chase Edmonds and James Conner.

Smith has had flashes while playing for the Falcons the past three seasons. The Cardinals have Eno Benjamin and Jonathan Ward at the top of the list for the third running back currently.

CARDINALS SIGN DEFENSIVE LINEMAN

With a rash of injuries on the defensive line – Xavier Williams was put on IR while J.J. Watt, Jordan Phillips and Zach Allen remain sidelined and Corey Peters slowly ramps up – the Cardinals signed Darius Kilgo Monday. He's spent time with six teams, most recently the Broncos' practice squad last year, since coming in as a sixth-round pick in 2015.

Images from Monday's training camp practice at State Farm Stadium.

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