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Broncos' Prater denied shot at historic kick

Broncos' Prater denied shot at historic kick

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) If only Lance Ball could have found the umpire faster, Matt Prater might just have written his name in the record books.

The Denver Broncos had crossed midfield and Prater was all set to try a 67-yard field goal right before halftime in their 30-23 win over San Diego, but the clock ran out before the umpire could spot the ball for Peyton Manning to spike.

Oh well, maybe next time.

``We've got to do a better job as coaches practicing that under pressure,'' coach John Fox said.

After all, the men who share the NFL record for longest field goal at 63 yards - David Akers, Jason Elam, Tom Dempsey and Sebastian Janikowski - all say the strong-legged Prater has the best chance to break the mark, especially in Denver's thin air.

``He's a weapon,'' Fox said. ``I mean, he's a weapon on kickoffs. He's a weapon as far as field goal range. Shoot, we were trying to set him up before half and we made a boo-boo not getting the ball spiked because we didn't get it to the officials fast enough. If we'd have gotten to the 50, we'd have tried it, especially at our place.''

They reached the Chargers 49 when Ball caught an 11-yard pass from Manning. But the Broncos had no timeouts remaining and the first half ended, denying Prater a shot at history.

Earlier in the game, Prater had a rare long-range misfire, staring in disbelief along with his teammates when his attempt from 55 yards out clanked off the left upright near the yellow flag that flies atop the 30-foot-high goal posts.

It was just his fifth miss in 20 career attempts from 50 yards or more, and that dropped him behind Chicago's Robbie Gould (76.5 percent) as the most accurate long-range field goal kicker in NFL history.

Prater is an anomaly among NFL players who make a living with their legs: the farther from the goal posts, the better he gets.

He makes 93 percent of his attempts from 39 yards and in but just 61 percent from 40-49 yards (22 of 36), then 75 percent from 50-plus.

Would the Broncos ever consider taking a delay of game penalty if he's lining up for, say, a 46-yarder, so that they move back into his comfort zone?

``No,'' Fox said emphatically. ``I mean, I'm still of the belief that closer's better. We're not going out of our way to back him up, for sure.''

That's a relief to Prater.

``They're all the same kick,'' he said. ``For some reason, I've been lucky enough to make most of the 50-yarders, but they're all the same kick.''

But with more pressure and less room for error.

Studies have shown that, in general, field goal accuracy starts to dip at 43 yards. Gould, Prater, Tony Zendejas, Rob Bironas and Jeff Wilkins - in that order - have the highest 50-yard field goal percentage since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger with a minimum of 10 attempts. For those rare kickers such as them, that success rate starts to rise once they get shots from really far away.

``I don't know why,'' Prater said with a shrug. ``I don't try to over-think it.''

Broncos special teams coach Jeff Rodgers suggested a big part of Prater's success from long distance is his mindset.

``I'd say this: He loves it and he embraces that challenge and I think it goes back to having success in those situations that leads you to have confidence the next time it comes up,'' Rodgers said.

Last year, Prater became the first kicker since Chris Jacke in 1998 to kick a winning field goal on the final play in three straight games. One of them was from 51 yards, against Chicago in overtime, which came after he nailed a 59-yarder at the end of regulation to tie it.

Prater also had a 52-yarder to beat Miami in overtime last season, making him one of just three kickers in league history with at least four game-winning field goals in one season that came in overtime or as time expired in regulation. The others are Elam (2007) and Dan Bailey (2011).

``Confidence is there,'' Prater said. ``But you've got to treat them all the same.''

Last week, Prater had a 19-yard field goal, his first attempt ever from inside 20 yards, and he kicked it like he did his 55-yarder.

Prater said he'd actually prefer a lot more of those chip shots than the long ones, where the slightest of variations is magnified and can send the football flying just outside the goal posts.

``The closer you are, the higher the percentage should be of making the kick,'' he said. ``So, any time you have a short field goal, that's good. Of course, I'd be happy just kicking extra points all day, too.''

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Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter:http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: OTAs Day 1

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: OTAs Day 1

Kick off your Tuesday with the latest Baltimore Ravens news including a recap of the first day of OTAs.

Player/Team Notes: 

1. Yesterday, (Monday) was the first day of the Ravens' OTAs. OTAs continue today (Tuesday) as the Ravens work on developing a new offense. Check out some of the highlights here. 

2. The Baltimore Ravens have officially announced the full 90-man roster that will be competing for an official team roster spot in OTAs this summer. 

Looking Ahead:

July 15: 4 p.m. deadline to get a long-term deal done with designated franchise tag players.

The 2019 NFL schedule is set! See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

Credit: Baltimore Ravens for news points.

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Jaxson Hayes

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Jaxson Hayes

The Washington Wizards will have the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2019 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Jaxson Hayes

School: Texas
Position: Center
Age: 19
Height: 7-0
Weight: 219
Wingspan: 7-4
Max vertical: 34.5 in.

2018/19 stats: 10.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.6 spg, 2.2 bpg, 72.8 FG% (3.8/5.3), 00.0 3PT% (0.0/0.0), 74.0 FT%

Player comparison: Jarrett Allen, John Henson

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 10th, NBADraft.net 9th, Bleacher Report 10th, Sports Illustrated 9th, Ringer 10th

5 things to know:

*Hayes is considered the best center prospect in this year's class. He is athletic, plays with energy and measured in at the combine at about 7-feet in shoes with a 7-foot-4 wingspan. He can run the floor and play above the rim.

*The skill that stands out most for Hayes is rim protection. He averaged 2.2 blocks in only 23.3 minutes per game. That extrapulates to 5.7 blocks over 100 possessions. He has long arms and appears to have good instincts tracking the ball in the lane. He is following in the footsteps of fellow Texas shot-blockers before him like Myles Turner and Jarrett Allen. The latter may be the best player comparison for Hayes in today's NBA.

*Hayes is not considered a very good rebounder. He averaged 5.0 per game and only once reached double figures. It could be that he just needs to add some weight, an issue that is correctable but would hurt him even more at the NBA level initially. The worst-case concern is that he is soft and won't do the necessary dirty work.

*At this point, Hayes offers nothing in the way of an outside shot. He didn't attempt a single three-pointer in college and didn't do much on offense outside of dunks and putbacks. In order to justify being taken with a high draft pick, he will either need to develop a post game, an outside shot or be extremely good on defense. His lack of an all-round game will certainly give some teams pause in evaluating him.

*Hayes comes from a family of impressive athletes. His father played 12 seasons in the NFL and recently served as the tight ends coach for the Cincinnati Bengals. His mother played basketball at Drake University and later coached in college, including a stint as an assistant at Oklahoma. Hayes followed his father's footsteps by playing wide receiver in high school before a growth spurt made it clear basketball was the path to go.

Fit with Wizards: Hayes is one of the best fits for the Wizards among the players who could be available with the ninth pick. He does what they arguably lack the most, which is play defense and more specifically protect the rim.

The Wizards allowed the most field goals within five feet of any team this past season and the third-highest field goal percentage in that range. They desperately need someone who can block and alter shots.

Hayes would likely be the Wizards' best shot-blocker Day 1. But whether he can help them in other ways is a question at this point.

Hayes would represent a bit of a project for the Wizards and may not have All-Star potential because of his offensive limitations. Still, he remains one of their best options in the first round. Long-term, he could transform their defense and form a strong pick-and-roll partner for John Wall.

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