Embattled kickers not getting boot — yet - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Embattled kickers not getting boot — yet

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Posted: Monday, November 26, 2007 9:46 pm

The Cardinals literally kicked a game away Sunday. But the kickers seem safe for now.

Cards notebook: Wilson worried he won’t return this season

Read Mike Tulumello's blog, Bird Watching

Coach Ken Whisenhunt expressed confidence Monday in kicker Neil Rackers after Rackers missed a 32-yard field goal that would have notched a win over the lowly San Francisco 49ers.

He hedged a bit on punter Mike Barr, who also had a tough game. He seemed to endorse Barr while also indicating the Cardinals might look around at possible replacements.

“We’re not going to play that game of musical kickers,” Whisenhunt said of Rackers.

“I have confidence that Neil is going to make the kick. We’re going to work in practice just like he’d made that kick.”

As for Barr, who had a 17-yard punt in overtime and had a net average of 18.7 yards Sunday, the coach said. “I thought Mike did a good job.

“There were a couple of punts that were not good, especially the one in overtime. That’s something we have to look at.”

He called Barr “a young punter” and that — as with all young players — “You go through some growing pains,” and teams have to live with mistakes.

“There are no guarantees that there’s anybody out there who can come in and do a better job.

“But certainly, at this time of the year when we do still have a chance, then we have to look at” the possibility of bringing in other punters for a look.

Rackers, who tried to duck reporters after Sunday’s game, emerged Monday to talk of his big miss.

“It felt good. Everything was fine. I pulled it a little bit.”

Rackers didn’t sound completely convinced the kick missed, saying, “It went right over the (left) upright. ... I guess I didn’t talk to that official enough, pregame.”

Rackers acknowledged his misses tend to sail left.

“It’s not going left in warm-ups. And then it seems like I’m hitting the ball a little left when it comes to the game.”

Quarterback Kurt Warner tried to deflect attention away from Rackers by pointing out the Cardinals muffed plenty of other plays.

Replied Rackers: “He’s right in that respect. At the same time, when the offense and defense gives you the opportunity to win the ballgame, you’ve got to put the ball through.

“That’s our job. To me, that is the only play.”

EXTRA POINT: Whisenhunt said he took a timeout with six seconds left in regulation and the ball two feet from the goal line, even though the game clock was stopped, for two reasons: 1) He wasn’t sure where the ball was going to be spotted and that would affect his choice of personnel and the play; and 2) He was expecting a replay that was slow in coming after Bryant Johnson made a catch and went out of bounds inside the 1-yard line.

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