Just keep kicking: Recent stretch of misses hasn't shaken Lions' faith in Matt Prater
We expect Matt Prater to make every field goal he kicks because Matt Prater expects himself to make every field goal he kicks. But when the Detroit Lions veteran kicker missed three early-season attempts, all from 55 yards and beyond, it was easy to chalk it up to the law of averages.
But the misses haven't stopped, and they've started to come from inside 50 yards. In Detroit's past three games, including two inside domes, Prater has sent attempts wide from 46, 48 and 46 yards.
He's now missed field goals in four straight games, something he's only done twice in his 14-year career and not since 2012. He's currently converting just 70% of his attempts and is on pace for the worst mark of his career, unless you count his rookie year in 2007 when he only had four attempts.
Is this just a bump in the road or part of a larger, sudden decline for the 36 year old who is playing under the final year of a contract extension he signed with the Lions in 2017?
Not that you'd expect them to say anything to the contrary, but Prater has the continued and full support of Detroit's coaches.
"I have the highest amount of confidence in Matt Prater," coach Matt Patricia said on Monday. "He is one of the mentally toughest guys I know. He’s physically tough. He works extremely hard. He’s a true perfectionist. He wants everything to be perfect all the time. He’s outstanding at what he does, and that’s why there’s no really concern from that standpoint."
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Special teams coordinator Brayden Coombs echoed many of his boss' comments, noting the issues cropping up in the game, including mishits on the past two misses, aren't showing up on the practice field or even during pregame warm-ups.
"He’s honestly been kicking the ball as well as he has since I’ve been here over the last three or four weeks in practice and in pregame," Coombs said. "So, I think that gives me a little bit of confidence that it’s not some sort of significant issue that he’s going to struggle with as much as he’s just got to really focus in the moment, be present in the moment and go execute the same way that he is throughout the course of the week."
Prater will try to get back on track this weekend, in the friendly confines of the team's domed home stadium, when the Lions host the Washington Football Team at Ford Field.
For his career, Prater has made 86.3% of his field-goal attempts when kicking indoors.