In the classic case of the young rookie trying to overtake the seasoned veteran, 38-year-old Arizona Cardinals kicker Jay Feely is trying to stave off competition from 23-year-old rookie Chandler Catanzaro.
With both kickers expected to get work in the Cardinals’ next preseason game on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, Feely said all he can do is continue to give his best.
“I’m grateful that I get another opportunity,” he said. “I’m going to out there and keep getting better and get ready for September.
“That’s always my focus. I could care less how I kick in June; I’m always focused on the beginning of the season — that first game of the season.”
Feely, 38, is entering his 13th NFL season and his fifth year with the Cardinals. He shook off competition from former Miami Dolphins kicker Dan Carpenter during last year’s preseason.
But this year, the veteran appears to have a serious challenge from Catanzaro, whose kickoffs have traveled farther than Feely’s have thus far in preseason play.
Both players have been perfect on their extra-point attempts (taken from 33 yards out as part of a preseason NFL experiment), but Feely’s final PAT in the Cardinals’ 30-28 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday ricocheted off an upright before it made its way through.
Feely, who won the kicking duel during Monday’s practice, wishes he had a chance to kick a field goal on Saturday, after Catanzaro connected on all three of his attempts in the Cards’ 32-0 win over the Houston Texans a week earlier.
“I was a little disappointed, but I understand,” he said. “It was 4th-and-short a bunch, and in the preseason you’re going to (go for it), whereas in the regular season you probably will kick a few of those.
“But I wanted a lot (of chances). I kicked the ball great in warm-ups, so I was hoping for four or five attempts.”
Feely said he’ll do everything he can to prove himself during the remainder of the preseason, but he said it’s unrealistic to expect to hit the ball out of the end zone on every kickoff attempt.
“As you get older, you’re not going to kick the ball as far. That’s just reality. You look at a guy like Adam Vinatieri, who I think is the best kicker of all time — the last 4-5 years, he hasn’t had to kick off at all, which I think has been great for him.
“We’ve got (punter Dave Zastudil), and Dave doesn’t kick off, so there’s a need here to kick off. So, you have to do it well, and you have to find ways to get better every day, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”