Arizona Cardinals have endured musical chairs at placekicker in 2022
By Jim Koch
The Arizona Cardinals will welcome back placekicker Matt Prater for their Monday night matchup with the San Francisco 49ers.
Heading into the 2022 campaign, the Arizona Cardinals could’ve never predicted the musical chairs they would have to endure at the placekicking spot. Most NFL teams manage to make it through the season with just one kicker, but the Cards have used an unprecedented four individuals at the position since the beginning of October.
Veteran Matt Prater will once again be performing the placekicking duties when the Redbirds meet the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football. The 38-year-old has missed four games this fall, thanks to a hip issue and an unspecified illness that sidelined Prater last week.
Prater was in the lineup for Arizona’s first four contests of the year, but was sidelined for Weeks 5-7. The 5 foot 10, 200 pounder returned for Weeks 8 and 9, but was forced to sit out last Sunday’s 27-17 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
Arizona Cardinals employed various kickers when Matt Prater was sidelined
When Week 5 rolled around, the Cardinals brought in Matt Ammendola as a fill-in for Prater. With just 22 seconds remaining in their 20-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the 25-year-old replacement shanked what would’ve been a game-tying, 43-yard field goal. Incidentally, Ammendola’s failed attempt is the only missed FG try by a Cards placekicker thus far in ’22.
Rodrigo Blankenship was brought in to do the kicking for Arizona during a Week 7 triumph over the New Orleans Saints. The 25-year-old made good on both of his field-goal tries (including a 50-yarder), but failed to convert on one of his three extra-point attempts.
Last Sunday, the Cardinals recruited Tristan Vizcaino to handle the placekicking chores. The 26-year-old did well, banging home a pair of FG attempts and all three of his PAT tries during the win over the Rams.
The Week 11 tangle with San Francisco presents an interesting scenario for the strong-legged Prater. The contest will take place in Mexico City, a location that sits 7,349 feet above sea level. Could Prater be handed an opportunity to top the 66-yard field goal that Justin Tucker slammed home for the Baltimore Ravens last season?
Ironically, Tucker’s 66-yarder broke an NFL record that Prater had held for eight seasons. Back in 2013, the Ohio native booted a 64-yard FG for the Denver Broncos. The “Mile High City” boasts a kicker-friendly elevation of 5,279 feet that’s still over 2,000 feet less than the altitude in Mexico City.
When the Cards last played in Azteca Stadium back in 2005, it was reported that former placekicker Neil Rackers connected on field-goal attempts of 70 and 75 yards during pregame warmups. How fitting would it be if Prater was given a chance by Arizona on Monday to reclaim the record that Tucker stole from him last season?
(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference)