The emergency kicker

Posted by Darren Urban on November 12, 2010 – 10:00 am

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.”

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11 Responses to “The emergency kicker”

  1. By AndyStandsUp on Nov 12, 2010 | Reply

    Didn’t Lyle Sendlein win the FG competition back in minicamp?

    Wonder if Feely has the same repertoire of trick kicks that Neil Rackers had and if Whiz will give the okay to try them.

  2. By ross on Nov 12, 2010 | Reply

    Tim is the man. What’s his range darren?

  3. By Darren Urban on Nov 12, 2010 | Reply

    Ross —

    RE: Hightower range

    In Flagstaff, he kicked a 50-yarder indoors once.

  4. By ben on Nov 12, 2010 | Reply

    finally a play with no risk of hightower fumbling

  5. By Kurt on Nov 12, 2010 | Reply

    50 yards in Flagstaff would translate to 40 yards in Phoenix

  6. By Scott H on Nov 12, 2010 | Reply

    Whoa…nice form, Timmy!

  7. By Billy Thomas on Nov 12, 2010 | Reply

    Nice article! I think everybody around the league is wondering who their emergency kicker is. Question for you though Darren, why aren’t the punters more adept (or at least adept enough) to kick in an emergency situation? I know they are different kicks altogether, but I would think the punter might work on that occasionally just in case he might have to come in and kick one day, instead of having Timmy do it. I mean (I love Ben Graham, so sorry if this sounds bad) what does the punter do all practice? I mean, how many times can you punt a football in a week?

  8. By Darren Urban on Nov 12, 2010 | Reply

    Billy —

    RE: Kicker

    If you already have someone who can pull it off (like Hightower), why try to put a square peg in a round hole?

  9. By brandon on Nov 13, 2010 | Reply

    never forget you pat tillman thank you for your service as an american and football player miss ya happy veterans day to all who served god bless

  10. By Michelle on Nov 13, 2010 | Reply

    We got so much talent on this team. I have a feeling we are going to come back and start winning all of our games. The only thing that makes me nervous right now is so many of our D are questionable!! We need the best out there!! Gooo Get Em Cards!!

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