Indy Star's PhilB has a good blog entry up talking about Matt Stover and what he brings to the Colts while kicker Adam Vinatieri heals up from surgery to remove loose cartilage in his knee. Like Vinatieri, Stover is a humble, hard-working guy who has a knack for delivering big kicks in the clutch.
After everybody had their questions answered, and Stover made it perfectly clear he just wanted to help this team win a Super Bowl, that a kicker like Adam Vinatieri can't be replaced, we chatted again. The recorder was off. And what a rush of enthusiasm, to hear him talk about how happy he was to still have a chance to kick. More to the point, to be in this situation, stepping in for a good friend, on such a good team.
I'm guessing if any of us couldn't do our jobs for whatever reason, and a good friend had to step in and help out, well, we would be grateful. Stover is prepared to go the distance with the Colts. It was reported that he kicked 53-yard field goals in his Tuesday workout. He is ready. And, like Vinatieri, missing clutch kicks is unacceptable.
Now, I know some here are suggesting that it is a "waste" to have three kickers and three quarterbacks on an active roster. The cries for "Adam to IR" or the even more ridiculous "Let Pat make all the kicks" really need to simmer down.
Like me, PhilB believes Vinatieri is still a clutch kicker. Without him, the Colts do not beat the Minnesota Vikings and San Diego Chargers last season, which would have meant no playoffs. And like me, Phil believes that Vinatieri will kick long after he recovers from surgery. Stover is 41. Vinaiteri is 36. I also believe the Colts feel Vinatieri is a key veteran whose presence is necessary in developing consistent special teams play. When Ray Rychleski barks out orders to do this and that, those orders carry more weight with players when someone as well-liked and well-respected as Adam Vinatieri nods. Remember, the team voted Adam and Melvin Bullitt co-captains of Special Teams.
So, when you lose someone as vital as Vinatieri, it is important to replace them with someone who others respect. Enter: Matt Stover.
Now, for some of you, there is this rather silly notion that the Colts should use rookie punter Pat McAfee as the field goal kicker. McAfee, a kicker in college at West Virginia, is able to kick FGs, but to ask him to punt, kick-off, AND kick field goals is a bit too much. McAfee has punted the ball great and his kick-offs are outstanding. However, even if he could hold up physically to handling all three jobs, would you trust a key, high pressure, big time kick to a rookie or to a veteran who has been there, done that a hundred times over? For me, I go veteran.
Others here are wringing your hands about about Stover's leg distance on kicks. Folks, if you need your kicker to consistently make 50-plus yard FGs, your team's offense stinks. I know lots of people around here go ga-ga for Rob Bironas and his bionic leg, but the reason the Titans have Bironas attempting all those long FGs is because their offense can't get the ball in the damned endzone. Also, Bironas has missed some important kicks this year, some of which cost them in their Week One loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
So, if you are still on the fence about the important of carrying three kickers, get down already! I personally want Adam Vinatieri back as healthy as possible for December and January, where he has etched his mark on the NFL and secured his bust in Canton. While he heals, I have full confidence in Stover handling pressure kicks; not so much in McAfee. If injuries occur and there needs to be some roster shuffling, I'd rather see players like Chad Simpson cut than a veteran kicker like Stover.