TEMPE, Ariz. -- With the Arizona Cardinals trying to claw their way into a playoff spot, one of the hottest topics this week has been ... the holder.
Arizona signed punt Matt Wile to its practice squad Tuesday because everyday punter Drew Butler's distance in games has been shorter than coach Bruce Arians would like to see. But Arians won’t make a change at punter until he feels comfortable enough with Wile’s holding on place kicks, because Wile has never done it before.
“There is a knack to it,” Arians said. “You have to learn how to spin the laces. First of all, you have to have good hands, soft hands, and then you have to be able to spin the laces and make sure the angle of the ball is exactly right every time.”
A bad hold can be the difference between kicker Chandler Catanzaro making or missing a kick. And the Cardinals have already seen two field-goal mishaps this season. Catanzaro missed a potential winning kick in Week 1 against New England largely because of a bad snap. Butler, as the holder, was able to corral it and place it in time, but the timing of the entire play was thrown off by the snap. In Week 7, Catanzaro another potential winning field goal in overtime, but neither the snap or hold was to blame.
Those losses could end up being the difference between Arizona making the playoffs or watching them at home in January.
The aforementioned reasons are why Arians is being cautious with Wile, in his second year out of Michigan. And Arians said he won’t carry two active punters, so the idea of Wile punting and Butler holding went out the window.
Why can’t the Cardinals have backup quarterback Drew Stanton hold?
“If your backup quarterback is a good holder, then it’s easy,” Arians said. “But ours isn’t. He can hold but he isn’t very good.”
And Arians doesn’t want to risk Stanton getting hurt on a block attempt, leaving the coach waiting on Wile. The only backup quarterback who holds is San Diego’s Kellen Clemens. Two others are listed as the backup holders on ESPN.com’s NFL depth charts. The other 31 holders, however, are punters.
Arians said he’d only feel comfortable with a holder holding in a game after being on a team for a few days if they had a history of holding. Wile doesn’t, thus Arians doesn’t feel comfortable enough with him just yet regardless of needing better punts.
“Now if he hasn’t done it, it’s going to be real hard to do,” Arians said. “[Former Cardinals punter Ryan] Quigley came in and he had done it. Chandler was very comfortable with what he had to do.”