Injuries happen. Sometimes, even to kickers. Last week, two teams — the Lions and Patriots — were forced to use emergency kickers because their guys got injured. And surprisingly, it wasn’t the punter. The Patriots used wide receiver Wes Welker (who made an extra point) while the Lions went with rookie defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, all 307 pounds of him. Suh does have a background playing soccer and actually looked decent in his form, although he clanged an extra point off the right upright (and it cost the Lions, because they ended up going to overtime after the missing point and lost).
The Cardinals aren’t going to turn to punter Ben Graham in that situation, because he doesn’t have a soccer background, having grown up kicking in Australian Rules Football. So if anything did happen to kicker Jay Feely, it would be running back Tim Hightower, who has proven many times on the practice field he could be an adequate sub.
“When I am out there kicking (in practice), that’s the situation I put myself in,” Hightower said. “When I kick after practice, it’s fun, but when (coach Ken Whisenhunt) gives me an opportunity to kick in front of the team, to me, that’s a game situation. Coach Whiz doesn’t use valuable practice time for antics or tricks. This is preparation, so that’s my mindset when I do it.
“It’s not my job, but if it happens, I’ll do it.”
The Cardinals actually have used an emergency kicker. Back in 2001, the infamous Bill Gramatica leaped in celebration — as he always did — after booting a 42-yard field goal in the first quarter of a game against the Giants in New York. Except he tore the ACL in his knee. His replacement that game? Safety Pat Tillman. (Although ironically, Gramatica still kicked a 23-yard field goal and PAT later in the game despite the injury. The Cards eschewed field goals longer than 30 yards, going for it on fourth down four times. Gramatica also couldn’t kick off and, after watching Tillman try, you realized Pat couldn’t either).
Feely said he likes what he sees out of Hightower. Then he stressed he doesn’t want to find out what Hightower would do in a game.
“I am impressed, especially with a running back,” Feely said. “You don’t usually see a running back who has the ability to kick. But on this team, Ben isn’t that guy, he doesn’t have that background, so it’s nice to have somebody do that. I don’t ever want to be in a situation where he has to come in, though. I’d have to be in a situation where I lost a limb or something before I’d not go out there.”
Tags: Jay Feely, Pat Tillman, Tim Hightower
Posted in Blog | 11 Comments »