The Indianapolis Colts will report to training camp on August 1, and believe it or not that leaves just 75 days between today and the start of camp (we're getting closer, Colts fans!). The team will enter camp with a 90-man roster full of a range of players, from those who are a lock to make the roster to those who seem like nothing more than a camp body. This offseason, we'll take a look at every single one of them. Obviously, this roster will change a bit and we'll adjust for that, but we'll be taking a look at every single player on the roster, having at least one of these articles every single day from now until camp, with some days having multiple. Today, we begin with the guy who occupies the number one for the Colts, punter Pat McAfee.
McAfee is, without a doubt, a lock to make the 53-man roster for the Colts. They currently don't have another punter on the roster, and while that could change leading up to camp (it's more likely the team provides a camp leg for Adam Vinatieri than for McAfee, but perhaps they'll bring one in for both), the team's punter is firmly entrenched in his position.
And that's well-deserved, too. He was a very good punter for the Colts in his first five seasons in the league, but in 2014 he took it to another level. As arguably the best special teams player in all of football last year, McAfee was named first-team All-Pro and made the Pro Bowl while breaking his own franchise record with 30 punts pinned inside the 20-yard line and setting a career-best with a 42.8 net average yards per punt. Furthermore, McAfee led the entire NFL in touchbacks as a kickoff specialist and also led the league with three successful onside kick attempts (one that he recovered himself). In addition, McAfee recorded three special teams tackles and again served as the holder for Adam Vinatieri on field goals and extra points. Again, he was as valuable as any special teams players in the NFL in 2014.
So for 2015, the goal for McAfee is simply to keep it up. I wouldn't put it past him to even improve upon his season from a year ago, but ultimately if he could simply keep up that level of play he would again be, arguably, the best punter in the league. As a punter, kickoff specialist, onside kick specialist, holder, and tackler, McAfee fills a number of roles for the Colts and does well at all of them.
There aren't many NFL cities in which the punter is a household name, much less a fan favorite. In Indianapolis, however, that's Pat McAfee, and it's in large part to his presence off-the-field in the community. But it's also because he's among the best punters in the entire NFL, and "numero uno" is here to stay for a number of years for the Colts. Pat McAfee is a lock to make the 53-man roster.