Arizona Cardinals’ kicker Chandler Catanzaro: God blessed me with a strong leg

Aug 11, 2014, 10:07 PM | Updated: 10:07 pm
Follow @CraigAZSports...

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Your move, Jay Feely.

The bar has been set, and set fairly high in the kicking competition.

Given the first chance to impress, Chandler Catanzaro did just that with a perfect performance in the Arizona Cardinals’ preseason opener, a 32-0 victory over the Houston Texans last Saturday at University of Phoenix Stadium.

He made all three extra point attempts, each of his three field goals tries and sent every one of his seven kickoffs deep into the end zone, including a pair of touchbacks.

Not bad for his first game action in the NFL.

“It felt great. The main thing I told myself is to just enjoy the opportunity, take it all in. That’s what I did,” Catanzaro said Monday. “Couldn’t have asked for a better first game, I guess.”

Was the kid — he’s 23, fresh out of college after leaving Clemson as the school’s all-time leading scorer — nervous?

“There were a few butterflies every now and then,” he said, “but honestly I just focused on my love of competing rather than the anxiety or whatever I was feeling.”

One of 15 rookie free agents to sign with the Cardinals two days after the draft, Catanzaro hit a 32-yard field goal in the first quarter, followed by a 28-yarder in the second and a 25-yarder in the third.

However, it was his leg strength connecting with the ball off the tee that most impressed head coach Bruce Arians.

“I knew he could kick extra points and field goals. That’s a given. But he didn’t kick off in college,” Arians said. “We knew he had a strong leg. (The Texans) were trying to return them and any time you start behind the 15-yard line you know you hit a great kick.”

At Clemson, Catanzaro was never asked to kick off, a duty that belonged to punter Bradley Pinion, now a senior. That allowed Catanzaro to concentrate solely on field goals, in which he missed only one attempt in each of his final two seasons.

“Kicking off is something I could always do,” he said. “After the year was over, after the Orange Bowl, people were talking about how I couldn’t kick off and it kind of gave me an edge, a competitive edge. I took that and it made me more hungry. I went out there and worked my tail off to kick off better because I knew I could do it. God has blessed me with a strong leg. Just took that and ran with it and here I am now.”

Catanzaro is here in training camp competing against Feely, who struggled some with kickoffs, especially late in the season last year, his fourth with the Cardinals and 13th overall.

Feely — described as being “in the best shape of his life” according to Arians — will handle all kicking duties this week at Minnesota and, it sounds like, the next week against Cincinnati. Catanzaro will then kick at San Diego, the preseason finale, giving each player the chance to perform once indoors and once outdoors.

“It’s friendly,” Catanzaro said of the competition. “We kind of do our own thing. I’m really just focused on what I can control and that’s my kicking. I’m just focused on getting better every day, and I think Jay kind of takes the same mindset. But we have very, very good relationship. I have all of the respect in the world for Jay and all he’s accomplished. It’s amazing over the years what he’s done, all the clutch kicks and how many years he’s been in the league.

Despite the early success and continuing praise from Arians, Catanzaro knows he’s got a long ways to go before locking down the job as Cardinals kicker.

“There’s always room to get better,” he said. “If there’s one thing I fear it’s complacency.”

Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury, right, and Byron Murphy Jr. (7) celebrate after an NFL foo...
Wills Rice

NFL.com’s Patra ranks Cardinals’ cornerbacks among weakest rooms in league

The Cardinals enter training camp with a few question marks personnel-wise on the defensive side of the ball, especially at cornerback.
1 day ago
Nick Scott #33 of the Los Angeles Rams tackles Zach Ertz #86 of the Arizona Cardinals after a recep...
Sam Graveline

PFF: Tight end shaping up to be biggest position battle for Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals head into training camp expecting to have healthy competition at a handful of positions, including at tight end.
2 days ago
Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates with fans after beating the Houston Texans 31-5...
Arizona Sports

Cardinals Corner: The timeframe of Kyler Murray’s contract extension

We haven't heard much lately when it comes down to Cardinals QB Kyler Murray and a contract extension. When will a new deal get done?
2 days ago
Markus Golden #44 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts to a defensive play during the first half against...
Nikash Nath

Cardinals LB Markus Golden among players with best team-friendly deals

Arizona Cardinals LB Markus Golden's contract cracked PFF analyst Brad Spielberger's top team-friendly deals ranking.
2 days ago
Arizona Cardinals' Kyler Murray (1) participates during the team's NFL football practice, Wednesday...
Nikash Nath

Cardinals’ Kyler Murray among top 5 QBs in multiple PFF passing metrics

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray's accuracy was on point in 2021, especially when looking at deep throws.
5 days ago
Arizona Cardinals linebacker Isaiah Simmons #9 during the NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals an...
Nikash Nath

PFF’s Renner: Cardinals’ Isaiah Simmons a breakout candidate in Year 3

Cardinals' inside linebacker Isaiah Simmons was named a potential year three breakout candidate by PFF's Michael Renner.
4 days ago
Arizona Cardinals’ kicker Chandler Catanzaro: God blessed me with a strong leg