Kicker Prater improves with less practice

There have been a few reasons for Matt Prater being more consistent in his second full season as Denver's kicker.

Prater changed his practice approach. Last season he started well, but he kicked a lot of balls in practice. Eventually he wore down and slumped in the second half. This year, he has made it a point to cut way back on his practice kicks to stay fresh.

That's one reason he has been so good in November and December, but another one is holder Mitch Berger. The Broncos signed Berger before their Nov. 1 game against Baltimore. Since then, Prater has hit 15 of 16 field-goal attempts. He has credited Berger, saying he gets the ball down fast and even offers good advice on handling wind or other conditions.

"He's been doing it so long, he knows more than I do about kicking and punting," Prater said.

Berger takes pride in being a good holder, putting in extra work with Prater and long snapper Lonie Paxton. That has helped the timing, which in turn has helped Prater have a breakout season. Prater hit all four of his field-goal attempts last week, and he now ranks second in the AFC in field goals made. He has hit 84 percent, a big jump from his percentage of 73.5 last year.

"We've worked a lot more (than) you actually normally would because we didn't have a training camp together," Berger said.


--QB Kyle Orton has been steady all season, but he'll have to take care of the ball this week. The Eagles are tied for third in the NFL with 23 interceptions, and they will know the ball is going to Brandon Marshall a majority of the time.

--RB Knowshon Moreno hasn't given the Broncos many big plays this season. He is solid, with 879 yards, but he is one of only three backs in the top 20 in rushing (Brandon Jacobs and Joseph Addai are the others) averaging less than 4 yards per carry. Still, there are no indications he won't get a majority of the carries down the stretch.

--RB Correll Buckhalter could return this week. The last time he came back from an ankle injury he was put right into his normal role, gaining 46 yards on 10 carries against the Chargers in Week 6.

--WR Brandon Marshall is up to second in the NFL with 93 catches after the Broncos have relied so heavily on him in recent weeks. His seven-catch, 73-yard game against the Raiders was his second-quietest game since Nov. 1. He'll get plenty of passes against Philadelphia.

--WR Eddie Royal has been a starter all season, and he ranks 91st in the NFL with 37 catches and 110th with 345 receiving yards. Royal's lost season probably won't get much better against a solid Eagles secondary.

--TE Tony Scheffler has only three catches over the past three weeks, but he could be targeted more this week. Philadelphia has struggled to defend the tight end all season. Although Brandon Marshall is dominating the receptions, Scheffler could have a decent role this week.

--LB Elvis Dumervil didn't get a sack against Oakland, and that usually means bad things for the Broncos. Dumervil has two sacks in Denver's six losses and 13 sacks in the team's eight wins.

--CB Champ Bailey likely will shadow DeSean Jackson this week. Bailey has done pretty well against the opponent's top receiver this season, but Jackson will be a difficult test. He is perhaps the best deep threat in the NFL, and the Eagles won't shy away from targeting him.

--CB Ty Law would help the defense if he can return after missing a game with a hamstring injury. He did practice on a limited basis last Friday, so he has a chance to return. The two candidates for nickel cornerback after Law are rookies Alphonso Smith and Tony Carter.

Got something to say - Voice your opinion on any one of our
Broncos Update Community Forums

Mile High Huddle Top Stories