Matt Prater turns 36 years old next week and is entering his 14th NFL season, but the Lions veteran kicker says his leg feels as good as ever entering training camp. So good, in fact, he's confident he can still boom it 65 yards if given the opportunity.
"I definitely think I could," Prater said Tuesday in a Zoom call with reporters when asked if he could still make it from 65 yards, which would be an NFL record. "I feel really good this year going into it. I feel like I'm in better shape. I feel better. My leg feels really fresh right now.
"It's like anything else as a kicker, there's probably a dozen guys in the league that can make a 65-yarder, it's just getting the opportunity in an actual game and coming through on that kick. I'm definitely not as strong as I was when I was 22 to 25 years old, but I'm a lot more consistent, so it's evolving with my body changing and getting a little bit older."
It also turns out there's some added incentive for Prater to boot a long one this season.
What started out as a Bud Light promotion for Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus - a good friend of Prater's - evolved into a competition this season between Prater and McManus to see who can kick the longest field goal. The winner earns a round of beer for their respective cities.
Initially Bud Light promised free beer to everyone in Denver if McManus broke the NFL's record for longest field goal, a mark currently held by Prater, who made a 64-yarder in 2013, while playing for the Broncos.
Prater tweeted at Bud Light and now the kicker who makes the longest field goal between them in 2020 will win beer for their city.
Prater has made the second most 50-plus yard field goals in NFL history with 53. His 76.8 make percentage on those field goals is the best in league history.
Prater will, however, have to navigate through some changes around him on the Lions special teams units.
Detroit has a new special teams coordinator in Brayden Coombs, who at 33 years old is nearly three years Prater's junior.
"The biggest impression I've had of (Coombs) is how he can control the meeting room," Prater said. "He has a presence and he can really control the meeting room. He's knowledgeable and enthusiastic, so he's been a lot of fun to learn from and work with so far."
Prater will also have a new permanent holder on field goals and extra points for the first time in his Lions tenure after punter Sam Martin left for Denver in free agency. Jack Fox and Arryn Siposs are battling for the punter job in Detroit and likely field goal and extra point holder job as well.
"It will definitely take some time," Prater said of working with a new holder. "That's a big reason why I'm personally really excited being back in the building is to get to work with those guys in person. With Muhl as well and Steve (long snappers Don Muhlbach and Steve Wirtel). Just to make up on some of those lost reps without the OTAs."
Prater seemed excited about navigating through the new challenges and preparing for a season he expects will be another good one for him personally, something Lions fans have gotten used to from Prater over the past six seasons in Detroit.