O'HARA: Prater's 61-yard field goal shows he's more than ready for regular season

With one more swing of his powerful right leg, Matt Prater has shown that he’s on course to start the NFL’s regular season.

Another of Prater’s patented long-distance field goals – a 61-yard cannon shot last week against the Bills in Game 3 of the preseason – showed that Prater is as good as ever at the age of 35 as he prepares for his 13th NFL season and sixth with the Detroit Lions.

In what most others call a meaningless preseason game, Prater approached the 61-yard field goal as though it meant something. And it did – to him.

“It’s really the same thing,” Prater told reporters after the game. “Kicking is kicking. Whether it’s preseason, regular season or playoffs, it’s all kicking between the posts.

“I try to treat them all the same. I get a little adrenaline before every kick. It’s just fun to get the opportunity to come through with it.”

Prater has had only three field-goal attempts and he’s made all three. He wouldn’t mind a heavier workload.

“As many as I can get,” is how he put it in training camp.

In addition to the distance, there were some elements in the kick that added to the degree of difficulty.

One was the circumstances. It was fourth down, and there were about 30 seconds left on the clock when the officials spotted the ball for the play.

Head coach Matt Patricia called time with one second left. Letting the clock tick down to the last second eliminated any chance that the Bills could take over at midfield had Prater missed – which he didn’t.

And the snap from Don Muhlbach was a little high. Sam Martin, the punter and holder, got the ball down without interrupting the rhythm. Prater’s low liner cleared the crossbar with yards to spare.

The entire operation – snap, hold and kick – was a product of years of playing together, and countless hours of practice time. As a unit, Muhlbach, Martin and Prater have been together since 2014, when Prater was signed by the Lions after the fifth game.

“Anytime you can go year-to-year with the same snapper and holder, you’re more confident, just because we know each other so well,” Prater said after the game. “Even on gam days, practice, we know each other’s routines, what to say, what not to say.

“It’s always nice to have the same carryover year-to-year.”

Patricia appreciates the way Prater prepares, and his meticulous attention to detail.

“His approach is unbelievable, the way he comes out every day,” Patricia said. “He’s very competitive with himself, which sometimes with a kicker is what you have to be. He wants to be right all the time.

“He’s consistent. He’s the same guy. For someone that’s been doing it as long as he has at that level, you love to see that – that desire, that wanting to be great all the time.”

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