LIONS INSIDER

Matt Prater kicking better with age

Posted Jan 17, 2017

Matt Prater will turn 33 years old before the start of next season, but the 10-year veteran doesn’t look to be slowing down at all.

Matt Prater will turn 33 years old before the start of next season, but the 10-year veteran doesn’t look to be slowing down at all.

Prater connected on a career-high 31 field goals this past season, which ranks as the third-highest single-season total in team history behind Jason Hanson (34 in 1993 and 32 in 2012).

For the year, Prater made 33 of 38 field-goal attempts (including the playoffs) and all but two of his 33 extra-point tries.

“It was pretty good, but it can always be better,” Prater said of the season. “I missed a few kicks that are definitely make-able kicks.

"You always look back on any position and say there’s a few plays here and there you wish you could have back, but at least none of the kicks I missed were last-second kicks to win or tie a game. I was happy with that part of it, but you can always improve and get better.”

Prater looks to be getting stronger with age. He made six game-winning or game-tying kicks, and his seven 50-yard-plus goals made is a career single-season high, surpassing the six he made in Denver in 2013.

Prater has one more year left on his contract, but looks like he has a lot of life left in that powerful right leg of his.

“Those are rarities,” Prater said last week when asked if he could play into his 40’s like Hanson or Adam Vinatieri. “I don’t know about (being) in my prime, but this year was pretty good and hopefully next year we can do better.”

Prater plans to take a few weeks off before getting back in the weight room, and also plans to add more cardio to his workout this offseason.

The NFL always seems to tinker with the kicking game in the offseason. They’ve moved the spot on extra points and kickoffs the last two offseasons. Given that reality, Prater has some advice for the NFL’s competition committee to consider this year.

“Put (extra points) back to the old spot,” he said.

Prater knows that won’t happen after the NFL got its wish and the extra point was a more competitive play moving from the 3-yard line out to the 15. The success rate dropped from 99.3 percent in 2014, when extra points were 20 yards in length, to 93.6 percent this past year, when they were 33-yard attempts.

“It’s one of those plays where, say a quarterback gets in a little slump or a rut, you can throw a quick pass or something to get him back in rhythm or whatever,” Prater said. “The old extra point, as a kicker, you could use that similar to that. Now, you have to hit it good to make it.”

There weren’t many “slumps” or “ruts” in Prater’s game in 2016, so he can probably live with the new reality of the extra point distance being what it is moving forward.