Entering the Broncos’ Week 13 matchup with the Chiefs, Matt Prater has already earned a slew of 2009 accomplishments.
His seven field goals and seven touchbacks in September led to his first AFC Special Teams Player of the Month honor. His four field goals and five touchbacks in the 26-6 Thanksgiving victory over the Giants led to an AFC Special Teams Player of the Week award.
With a hostile road environment on the horizon this weekend in Kansas City, Prater is less focused on past praise and more geared toward a strong finish.
“So far it has been good, but we still have at least five more weeks,” Prater said. “I don’t even like knowing about it until after the season, because you always (think) about your next game which is the most important. Kansas City this week and try to have a good game this week.”
The last time Prater graced the Arrowhead Stadium grass, his leg produced history. Prater nailed two 50-yard field goals against the Chiefs on Sept. 28, 2008, becoming the third Bronco in club history to accomplish that single-game feat.
While he’s only had two attempts of 50 yards or longer this season, Prater has prided himself on consistency. He’s 19-of-23 on field goals and 19-of-19 on extra points, thanks to a little bit of added difficulty in practice.
“I think one thing that has really helped is we have been kicking with a little skinnier than arena uprights in practice,” Prater said. “So then when I go out there for the games, I look at the uprights and they look a lot wider. Just a mental (edge) too.”
That mental edge has been aided by two veterans alongside him on every attempt. Lonie Paxton arrived in the offseason, bringing nine years of experience and three Super Bowl rings at long snapper. Mitch Berger arrived in Week 7, bringing 15 years of games and a Super Bowl ring himself at punter.
Since Berger took over the team’s holding duties, Prater has converted all seven of his field goal attempts. He was far from shy about what the 16-year veteran has added to the kicking equation.
“I’m super confident in him,” Prater said. “When I line up I don’t ever have to think about the hold, which (former Broncos punter) Brett (Kern) was good at too. But Mitch has been doing it so long. He kicked as well so he gives me little pointers here and there on kicking, too.”
A top story detailing more from Dove Valley, including the Week 13 Injury Report, will be posted on DenverBroncos.com later this evening. For now, here are some shots from the start of Wednesday’s practice.
– Chris Gentilviso, DenverBroncos.com