Kansas City Chiefs placekicker Harrison Butker already holds the franchise record for field-goal accuracy, having made 89.7% of his attempts over his three seasons with the team. But according to special teams coordinator Dave Toub, Butker is working toward adding another skill set: making them from farther away.
Butker made a 56-yarder against the Chicago Bears (in The Windy City, no less) in December — two yards short of Nick Lowery’s franchise record of 58 yards. But Toub thinks Butker’s range has improved since then.
“I think he did [get stronger],” he told reporters on Monday. “He had a great offseason. He worked hard — whether it was lifting weights, his diet or getting out and kicking. I think he kicked a little bit more this offseason than he has in the past — and he came back strong.
“I mean, I’d say he probably increased his range by about five yards. His other range last year, I think I would probably take him back 55. We could probably take him back to 60 in a vacuum. I mean it’s unbelievable, but he’s that strong.”
Toub allowed that the wind and weather conditions in a particular game always factor into the decision to send in his placekicker for a field-goal attempt — but he still feels confident that in the right conditions, Butker could pull it off from 60 yards.
“I dialed in this offseason,” acknowledged Butker after the first public practice at Arrowhead on August 22, where he made field goals of 58 and 62 yards — and just missed a 69-yarder. “I just felt like, ‘What are things I can do to get stronger, get quicker, and hit further balls?’ I was thinking about soccer players like Cristiano Ronaldo, they’re very low body fat and that’s one area that I could get better at. I started eating more meals, eating smaller quantities, so I definitely brought my weight down, I feel stronger and faster than I’ve ever been.”
His plan resulted in at least one otherworldly kick — a practice kick he made from 77 yards back in April.
“I feel super comfortable kicking from distance,” Butker later said of the practice kick. “Obviously, we’re not going to be kicking field goals from [77 yards] most likely in a game, but it’s going to help me a lot when it’s a 55-yarder; wind’s in your face in January and February. That’s what I’m training for: to be able to make those kicks.”
But for Butker, it’s been about more than just getting himself in shape. With the departure of punter Dustin Colquitt, he took it upon himself to assume the leadership role Colquitt had held among the specialists, getting prospective punters Tyler Newsome and Tommy Townsend into town as soon as he could — and organizing near-daily workouts with them and long-snapper James Winchester.
“With the virtual offseason, we just figured it would be best for Tommy and Tyler to be up here,” said Butker back in June, “because as I was saying earlier, the chemistry is so important.
“What I did not want was for us to show up at training camp — and that was the first time for us to meet and get to know each other. And now we’re doing live snap-hold kicks together. The more we can be around each other, the better.”
So far, that work has been paying off.