Arizona Cardinals weighing kicking options with Matt Prater banged up
Oct 3, 2022, 3:18 PM
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
TEMPE — Kicker Matt Prater represents a rather large question mark for the Arizona Cardinals entering Week 5.
Picking up a hip injury at practice last week, Prater still managed his normal kicking duties in most of the team’s 26-16 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
That was until the fourth quarter when Prater handed over kickoffs to emergency kicker and running back Eno Benjamin while still manning field goals and extra points, which the Cardinals avoided on their final touchdown of the day.
Prater didn’t miss a beat despite the injury, going a perfect 2-for-2 on both field goals and extra points. His longest make of the day came from 39 yards out.
“He’s a little sore today,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Monday. “We’ll see how it goes throughout the week, but he really toughed it out for those couple of kicks and kicked really well until he couldn’t any longer. Eno came in and did what he could.
“I just appreciate Matt pushing through,” the head coach added. “He didn’t feel great all week and just kind of rested until the game and made a couple big kicks that we needed when we were struggling offensively and kicked off really well.”
This season, Prater is a perfect 6-for-6 in field goals with a long of 49 yards. He’s 4-for-4 on extra points and has recorded 10 touchbacks on 15 kickoffs through four games.
With Prater’s status up in the air entering Week 5, the Cardinals are currently working through backup plans.
One of which is bringing in outside kickers, something Kingsbury said was on the docket for the week.
Among the players that worked out for the team on Monday was former Indianapolis Colt Rodrigo Blankenship, per ESPN’s Field Yates.
Over three seasons of work (22 games), Blankenship is 45-for-54 (83.3%) with a career-long of 53 yards. He is 52-for-55 in extra points (94.5%) and has 19 touchbacks in 30 kickoffs.
And in case of emergency, Arizona could always break the glass of Benjamin again midgame — even if it’s just for kickoffs.
“I think there was a lot of good and bad — not bad I should say — but there was a lot of people making fun of the whole thing,” Benjamin said Monday of his performance.
“And just the fact that I was able to get the tackle (on the first kickoff), I think a lot of people were actually pumped up about it.”