Phil Dawson, 42-year-old kicker for the Arizona Cardinals, discusses his approach to the game. || By Rob Schumacher

Each day of Phil Dawson’s 19-year-career has been filled with challenges. From the brutal cold of Cleveland to the unpredictable winds of San Francisco, the 42-year-old kicker has seen it all.

And even now, as Dawson prepares for his first season in the controlled environment of University of Phoenix Stadium, the challenges are just as present as ever.

“This is beautiful,” Dawson said of the Cardinals’ facility. “Every stadium has challenges, whether it’s footing or the conditions of the day. It’s always been a challenge to prepare for the conditions I kick in.”

In his 20th professional season, the Texas native is dealing with a new trial and one that he has no control over – his age.

“I’m not a spring chicken anymore, and now I’m here so that presents a challenge,” Dawson said. “Each and every day, I’ve got to come in and do what I need to do to get ready and help this team win games.”

The Cardinals signed Dawson in May to replace Chandler Catanzaro, who spent three seasons as the Cardinals’ kicker. Catanzaro connected on just 21 of 28 field-goal attempts last season and missed four extra-point tries.

Dawson has a career field-goal percentage of 85.4 percent and connected on 85.7 percent last season with just one missed extra-point attempt.

But for the veteran kicker, it’s important not to take the conditions for granted. Dawson plans to take the same approach here as he did in FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, as well as both Candlestick Park and Levi’s Stadium in the Bay Area.

“I’m looking forward to (reliable environment), but there’s no guarantee,” Dawson said. “Cleveland, Candlestick … I will approach every kick in this dome the same way I would in December in Cleveland.”


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It’s that sort of consistency that has kept Dawson around for nearly two decades. And despite his age, with each training camp comes a clean slate.

“I look a little different than I used to, but it doesn’t matter how long you’ve played; there’s not a lot of carryover from the year before,” Dawson said. “You literally reboot the system, start the process all over again, approach every day like it’s a new day and see where you end up when it’s all said and done.”

Dawson does have familiarity with Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, who was a coach with the Browns when Dawson was there. When Arizona reached out to him in the offseason, Dawson was thrilled.

For a player who made his debut when some Cardinals rookies were just 5 years old, the ongoing challenges have not stopped. With each season comes something different, and playing in Glendale will certainly require an adjustment.

And for Dawson, the key to conquering these new challenges is a consistent mindset.

“I wouldn’t say (there is) any extra pressure,” Dawson said. “I just try to make every kick, and when perfection is your standard, I’m not sure there’s much more pressure you can feel.

“My routine for a game-winner is no different than a first-quarter extra point. It’s pretty boring, but I’ve found if you approach every day with the same attitude and the same routine, when it’s a game-winning situation it doesn’t feel a whole lot different than any other kick.”

Dawson said he hopes to erase the use of “the 42-year-old” as a disclaimer when people bring up his name. He knows how old he is, but he hopes his play will shift the focus elsewhere.

“There’s not a whole lot I can do about my age,” he said. “I just hope to make the most of every day. My goal would be at the end of the season is that the first thing people go to about me isn’t my age.”

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