Today, Colts head coach Jim Caldwell confirmed what many of us were assuming the Colts would do in regards to their field goal kickers. Caldwell stated that Matt Stover, who was signed in October, will remain the primary field goal kicker for the Colts.
Stover was signed to kick field goals while regular kicker Adam Vinatieri recovered from minor surgery on his knee to remove cartilage. Vinatieri's knee issues kept him out of training camp and pre-season. The knee started causing significant problems for Vinatieri after the Colts victory in Tennessee against the Titans in early October. Viantieri and the team agreed surgery was the best option, and shut him down until just recently. Vinatieri
returned for both the Jets and Bills games returned only for the Jets game, but it seems his knee has not reacted as well as everyone would have liked.
Still, even though the knee does not seem to be 100%, the Colts are keeping Vinatieri on the active roster with Stover and rookie kicker Pat McAfee. McAfee is the punter, holds for field goals, and works on kick-offs. McAfee was also a field goal kicker in college at West Virginia. The fact the the Colts are keeping Vinatieri suggests that while the knee is not 100%, it is not "shot" or anything like that.
For me, I actually very much like this move. One, it means Stover is not going to get cut and signed by another team (like, perhaps, the Ravens). Stover has been outstanding kicking field goals since October, and I would have vomited had he been cut and signed by another playoff team. The other reason I like the moves is that while Stover has been very consistent kicking the ball 45 yards and in, he does not seem to have the leg strength to consistently kick long FGs.
This means that if the Colts get into a long FG situation late in a game, they can use Vinatieri for the shot and not be forced to punt or give up field position if they fail on 4th down.
Also, and maybe I'm being a little sentimental on this, but it is kind of cool to have, arguably, the two best FG kickers of their generation on one team. Guys like Stover and Vinatieri buck the trend of the whiny, "idiot kicker" who is afraid to make tackles, run, and play football. They also have long, impressive resumes when it comes to making big, clutch kicks in high pressure situations. Factor in that both are just great guys and have tremendous mutual respect for one another and the move just feels right.
So, after weeks of bashing Jim Caldwell for how he handled the Jets game, I am finally given an opportunity to praise him. This is a smart move, and it makes me feel a lot better about the Colts kicking situation in the playoffs.