Shaky placekicker is a worry that the Cardinals do not need

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images) /

Following an up and down 2021 campaign, veteran Matt Prater had a rocky start to his second preseason with the Arizona Cardinals.

For most of last season, Matt Prater was everything that the Arizona Cardinals could’ve asked for in a placekicker. The free-agent acquisition racked up an impressive 137 points, thanks to the 30 field goals and 47 extra points Prater booted through the goalposts during the 17-game campaign.

Despite that decent amount of success, Prater turned in a few disappointing outings for the Cards last fall as well. There were nine missed kicks in all, a total that represents the second-most number of failed attempts by Prater in a season during his 15-year NFL career.

With last year’s up and down performance now behind him, Prater was looking to get off to a more positive start for Arizona this past Friday against the Cincinnati Bengals. But unfortunately, any concerns that the Cardinals may have had about the Ohio native were far from alleviated during the team’s preseason opener.

Prater missed not one but two PAT attempts during the Redbirds’ 36-23 victory over Cincinnati. Obviously, the game didn’t count, but should general manager Steve Keim have a backup plan in place for the club’s inconsistent kicker?

Placekicker Matt Prater struggled at times for the Arizona Cardinals in 2021

Questions were raised about Prater right away last year during Arizona’s season-opening win over the Tennessee Titans. Lost in the excitement of the 38-13 blowout was the 43-yard field goal that the two-time Pro Bowler failed to convert late in the matchup.

Ten weeks later, Prater was absolutely awful during the Cards’ 23-13 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. Eyebrows were raised when the 5 foot 10, 200-pounder missed a pair of extremely-makable field goals (39,36) and also failed to convert on an extra-point try in the second quarter. Prater blamed his ineffectiveness on the fact that Colt McCoy was filling in for regular holder Andy Lee, but that just sounded like a lame excuse.

In week 16, three more shanks by Prater directly contributed to a Cardinals loss. Two missed FGs (51,41), and another failed PAT attempt proved to be the difference in the squad’s 22-16 defeat to the Indianapolis Colts.

Arizona didn’t bring any competition for Prater into training camp, so it appears that the organization has a tremendous amount of confidence in the 38-year-old placekicker. Cards fans can only hope that the franchise’s decision-makers made the right call with the aging veteran.

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