KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Temperatures at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday afternoon may not break the freezing mark, and kicker Harrison Butker might even see a few snowflakes during warm ups, prompting Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub to wonder how his rookie may fare in his first true cold-weather NFL experience.
“This will be the coldest game Butker ever kicked in,” Toub said. “We’re going to see how he does. He was kicking down at Georgia Tech, not a lot of cold days down there.”
The Georgia born and bred Butker rarely ventured out of the warmth of the Deep South late in the season during his college career. The Yellow Jackets always play their last home game against Georgia. Normally warm-weather ACC conference games and out of conference games against SEC opponents dotted the late-season schedule. Even road trips to Pittsburgh in October saw temperatures in the 50s.
“Probably 36, 38,” Butker said when asked the coldest conditions in which he kicked. “I heard it’s going to be in the 20s but it shouldn’t be an issue.”
The coldest game in which Butker kick in college might be a few degrees colder than he remembers. His Georgia Tech team played Mississippi in the Music City Bowl in Nashville during his freshman season in 2013. The temperature peaked at 32 degrees at kickoff. Butker hit a field goal from 38 yards along with two extra points in a 25-17 loss.
Kansas City’s specialist head outside even when temperatures force the rest of the squad indoors for workouts. Butker along with punter Dustin Colquitt and long snapper James Winchester also occasional ride a cart over to Arrowhead Stadium to kick on the field.
“We’re going outside today,” Butker said. “We’ve had a lot of practices that have been really cold so it shouldn’t be an issue.”
Toub said his special teams units need to work outside to get ready for game action.
“Every time we come inside, we go outside and kick,” Toub said. “We go outside and kick, we punt, we do our drills out there. We try to get out as much as we can. Today we’re getting out. That’s important for special teams, you’ve got to get outside.”
Butker’s limited experience in the cold tells him to expect less length on his kicks.
“I think the ball doesn’t compress as much so it probably doesn’t fly as far,” Butker said. “It depends on what the field’s like. Arrowhead’s got a great turf so that shouldn’t be an issue. But the ball usually doesn’t fly as far but that’s pretty much the only difference.”
Toub believes Butker’s strong leg should help him power through the cold.
“The thing about him that we do now is that he has a strong leg, so the ball is going to fly,” Toub said. “The cold weather really not going to affect him too much. It will affect him but not as much as other guys.”
The ever-confident Butker understands the novelty of the southern transplant kicking in the cold. But just as few other distractions seem to faze the young kicker, the cold weather doesn’t seem to concern him that much.
“I’m cool with it,” he said.”
Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @MattDerrick.