View Full Version : Kicking with Confidence

06-03-2009, 10:30 PM
Head Coach Josh McDaniels plans to use Peyton Hillis out of the backfield in a variety of ways this season.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Despite entering only his second full season as a starting kicker in the league, Matt Prater appears to have the full confidence of Head Coach Josh McDaniels. Need proof? He's the only kicker currently on the Broncos' roster.

"We feel good about where he is at, what he has done, what he is capable of doing," McDaniels said after passing camp on Wednesday. "He started out really strong last year and then went through a little rough patch, but all the kickers do that. That's not uncommon. We're looking for Matt to have a good year."

Prater began his career for the orange in blue in 2007 by handling kickoff responsibilities for the club in their final two games. Then, given control of field goal duties last season, Prater connected on 25-of-34 attempts and was 5-of-6 from 50 yards or longer.

Arguably Prater's most memorable performance of 2008 came at Kansas City in Week 4 when he made field goals from 56 and 51 yards -- becoming the first player in Arrowhead Stadium history to connect on two 50-yarders in the same game.

A year wiser, Prater believes he will be a more effective kicker in 2009. He has grown more knowledgeable in a number of facets, from how to warm up to how to take care of his body during the week.

"I know not to kick too many balls in practice," he said. "Say I have a bad day -- instead of going out and kicking a bunch more, just try to get it back the next day instead of kicking 50 more balls. It's a long season."

During offseason camps, special teams coordinator Mike Priefer has been working with Prater on pressure kicking situations. On Wednesday, onside kicks were a focal point.

"I think he is kicking with a lot of confidence right now," McDaniels said. "He understands that he plays a huge role in our ability to win situations -- because plenty of (games) come down to a kick here or there."


As a whole, McDaniels said he is pleased with the progress his defense has made in transitioning to a 3-4 scheme. But when asked specifically about how the defensive line is adjusting, McDaniels wasn't going to rush to judgment.

"That is one of the hardest groups to actually evaluate at this time in the year because you can't hit anybody and there are no pads on," he said." You can't see if the line of scrimmage is changing or not."

One thing is certain for the front seven: defensive coordinator Mike Nolan will ask the group to be versatile. Depending on the play call, a player's role could change considerably. During rushing situations, they could have their hand on the ground, playing at defensive end. At other times, they'll be standing at outside linebacker.

"I think that is very common with most 3-4 teams in this league," McDaniels said of rotating defenders between positions. "It's just something they all have to learn."


In New England, McDaniels spent countless hours working with the likes of Tom Brady and Matt Cassell on the practice field. After enjoying success with both of those quarterbacks, he sees no reason to change his ways.

As the man most familiar with the offensive system he is implementing, McDaniels said it would be uncomfortable if he didn't have the opportunity to work with his quarterbacks on a daily basis. He also cited the fact that he'll be calling plays on game days as another reason why Tom Brandstater, Kyle Orton and Chris Simms should get used to hearing his voice each day in practice.

"If I wasn't going to be the voice in their helmet, I probably wouldn't do as much talking to them in practice," he said. "They are going to be comfortable with me during practice and they'll be comfortable with me during the games."


Through offseason workouts, Peyton Hillis has caught McDaniels' attention.

McDaniels sees the second-year pro -- who can play both fullback and running back -- as a valued commodity. In practice, Hillis is being used in a range of ways. In single-back formations, he is occasionally running the ball - McDaniels said he is a strong candidate to get the ball in goal-line situations. In two-back sets, he's typically blocking. And McDaniels wants to use him in a receiving role, too. At Wednesday's practice, Hillis was split out wide all over the field.

"He's got great hands, he's got a great feel for the passing game and he's a very tough runner when you give him the ball. He'll do a lot of different things for us," McDaniels said. "We tell our players they all create their own roles and he's certainly done a good job of taking what we're giving him and doing it very well."

06-03-2009, 10:59 PM

Man am I glad to hear the HC has already picked up on what Hillis can gring to the table.
McD already looks pretty smart to this fan.

06-03-2009, 11:03 PM
As for Prater, I have pretty high confidence in him. I think he will defeinitely have learned a lot from last year and be a much improved kicker this year.

06-03-2009, 11:33 PM
As for Prater, I have pretty high confidence in him. I think he will defeinitely have learned a lot from last year and be a much improved kicker this year.

from what I heard he just flat ran out of gas near the end of the season one could call it the rookie wall..

I think conditioning can fix most of that..