Being an NFL placekicker is the epitome of a quiet role. If it’s done correctly, people barely remember your name, You hit your extra points and field goals should be routine at best.
For Arizona placekicker Jay Feely, last season found him both the good and bad situations for a kicker to be in. Most people don’t remember when he hit on 22-of-24 field goals during the first part of the season. At that time he was invisible and practically automatic.
Instead what people remember are his miss at St. Louis in the season opener and two mistakes during the season finale against San Francisco. Those misses came back to haunt Arizona as they finished a game out of the playoffs and lost each of those games by three points.
Danny Hrapmann and undrafted rookie Chandler Catanzaro are going to be the competition for Feely this time. Last time, Feely staved off Dan Carpenter, formerly of the Dolphins, to keep his job.
Catanzaro, from Clemson, has built a quick bond long snapper Mike Leach and punter/holder Dave Zastudil. That leads to all three guys being on the same page and great accuracy and ease in the process.
Hrapmann has been in the Steelers training camp each of the last two seasons is a smaller player at 5-foot-9 and less than 165 pounds.
So why did Feely fall apart late in the season? It could have been something from months earlier, according to Kyle Odegard on the team’s official site.
Last offseason was trying for Feely. A stress fracture on the inside of his right foot limited his preparation for the 2013 season. Instead of the usual regimen of running up hills, sprinting and practicing kicks to fine-tune his leg, he mostly had to sit around and wait for the injury to get better.
“I couldn’t kick, really, the whole offseason until training camp,” Feely said. “I was a little behind. I knew I was going to be, but I had to let it heal. With the trainers we had talked about what the best strategy was, and it was not kick, let it heal. So the first couple weeks I knew I was going to be a little rusty and be behind.”
The stress fracture didn’t help Feely late in the season as the rust was still there. Feely missed four of his final dozen kicks which contributed to this happening. Despite the competition, Feely takes it in stride.
“I’m not going to be a jerk to guys just because we’re competing against each other,” Feely said.