Cards notebook: A leg up in the kicking game
OCT 01, 2012 10:02p ET
Dave Zastudil ranks just 12th in the league in yards per punt (47.5), but he is seventh in net yards per punt (42.9), a far more important stat. He’s also fifth in punts downed inside the 20-yard line (nine) and he has the third-longest punt in the NFL this season, a 68-yarder he boomed Sunday that Michael Adams downed at the Miami 5-yard line.
How good was Zastudil on Sunday? Of his nine punts, only two were returned for a total of 27 yards (a 3-yard average per punt).
Zastudil had average numbers in 2011 after the Cardinals brought him in to replace Ben Graham. But Spencer played a hunch that better days were coming.
“David was kind of in an unfair situation last season when we brought him in,” Spencer said. “He’d been out of football for a year and a half -- maybe close to two. He hadn’t trained, and we had no offseason because of the lockout, so his body wasn’t physically strong.”
After some technique work with former NFL punter Chris Gardocki and some work in the weight room, Zastudil has it going. So does kicker Jay Feely.
Feely’s rankings won’t stun you. He’s 14th in the NFL in field goals made and 12th in extra points. But those stats are a product of the Cards’ offensive struggles, not Feely’s. When the offense gets in range for Feely, he’s been automatic.
Feely is 7 for 7 on field goals and 10 for 10 on extra points. His game-winning, 46-yard field goal in overtime Sunday was his 18th consecutive made field goal, tying him for the second-longest streak in franchise history.
Who did he tie? Himself. Feely did it in 2010 as well -- but he still has some work to do to eclipse Neil Rackers’ franchise record of 31 (2005).
“I don’t consider last year part of my streak, so the way I look at it is I’ve made all seven of my kicks and I want to make all my kicks all year,” Feely said. “That’s the only streak I care about.”
Feel is aware of the 63-yard field goal the 49ers’ David Akers made earlier this season. He saw the 60-yard boot Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein made for the Rams on Sunday. But there is little concern for intradivisional one-upsmanship.
“I usually go to Spence and coach (Ken) Whisenhunt before games and tell them where I feel comfortable from,” Feely said. “I usually give them a yard line and say, 'I’m good from here.' If the kick goes bad, that’s on me.”
Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett (hamstring) was limited in Monday night’s practice, perhaps a hopeful sign that he could play Thursday in St. Louis, but Monday’s practice was a light workout. Tuesday and Wednesday will provide much better tests.
Tight end Todd Heap (PCL sprain), running back LaRod Stephens-Howling (hip), tight end Jim Dray (knee), cornerback Michael Adams (hamstring) and linebacker Quentin Groves (hamstring) did not practice Monday.
Also limited were linebacker Paris Lenon (knee), linebacker O’Brien Schofield (knee), fullback Anthony Sherman (hamstring), QB John Skelton (ankle), right guard Adam Snyder (elbow) and defensive tackle Dan Williams (foot), who was a surprise addition.
A CHANGE AT THE CORNER?
The Dolphins successfully exploited starting cornerback William Gay on Sunday -- so much so that he was replaced by Greg Toler.
Toler has been working his way back after missing last season with a torn ACL tear. Whisenhunt said Toler was never was quite right, despite his participation in all of training camp and the preseason.
“He was fighting it in camp, and he’s been getting healthier,” Whisenhunt said. “During the course of the game, we made the move because we thought it was best because of the matchup situation.”
Even so, Whisenhunt would not commit to keeping Toler as the starter. Toler remained on the field Sunday in nickel situations instead of Jamell Fleming, with Gay staying at nickel. Gay played 50 defensive snaps Sunday, Toler played 44 and Fleming played 12.
RUNNING IN PLACE
The Cards’ 28 rushing yards were their fewest since a 13-yard effort against the 49ers on Nov. 29, 2010. Whisenhunt acknowledged that aspect of the offense must improve -- even in the absence of starter Beanie Wells (IR, severe turf toe) and Stephens-Howling.
But it was also interesting to note that William Powell had more snaps (34) than Ryan Williams (33). Whisenhunt said Williams is not part of the no-huddle package because of where he is in his development. Powell gets practice reps in that package. The Cards ran a lot of no-huddle on Sunday, thus the respective snap counts.
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