Before placekicker Matthew Wright was poached from the Kansas City Chiefs practice squad on Wednesday, there had been speculation about why he had remained with the team after Harrison Butker returned from his ankle injury for the Week 6 game against the Buffalo Bills — including the possibility that Butker wasn’t fully recovered from his injury.
And we now know that’s at least part of the reason Wright was kept around.
“I’m not at 100%,” Butker told reporters in the locker room before Wednesday’s practice. “If I was at 100%, I’d be doing full steps on my kickoffs or going back the 10 yards and everything.”
Butker being less than 100% recovered would certainly help explain why he hasn’t appeared to be performing at 100% since his return. During Sunday’s 20-17 overtime win against the Tennessee Titans, Butker missed a 47-yard field goal attempt — as well as an extra point. But Butker has also kicked a franchise-record 62-yard field goal since his return.
“I’m good enough to have the strength — that’s not an issue,” he explained. “But my mind tells my body to do certain things — and it’s just not happening every single time. It’s that consistency aspect — not the power or the ability to go out there and do it. The consistency aspect is what I’ve got to get better at.”
That certainly fits what we have seen from Butker in recent weeks: a lack of the consistency we have become accustomed to seeing from him.
“With any injury, you have to adapt,” he noted. “How do you overcome that? Your body is going to feel different. How do you respond to that?
“When I’m out there, I’m obviously doing the best I can with what my body can do — [and] I think the most important thing is being out there. I can’t just go out and kick a ton of balls in practice — or kick a ton in the warmup — because that could lead to hurting something. You’ve got to balance that.
“I’ve been really confident and really positive with everything, but you’ve just always gotta keep improving; take it one day at a time.”
After uncharacteristically missing three field goals (in eight attempts) and an extra point (13 attempts) on the season, the placekicker was reluctant to say how long it will take him to get all the way back.
But he was willing to say that he has been seeing steady improvement.
“I would hope that it will continue to keep getting getter,” he said. “I mean, it has [gotten better]. Every week, it’s gotten better. It feels better after every game. So I have hopes that I’ll be at 100% soon.”