Over the last few seasons, the Colts’ special teams unit has become known as the fourth down army, with kicker Adam Vinatieri, punter Pat McAfee, and long snapper Matt Overton leading one of the league’s best special teams lineups.
Even as recently as last year, Vinatieri almost certainly wouldn’t have been anybody’s choice to outlast the other two with the Colts, but that’s exactly what has happened. McAfee retired this offseason, and then last week Overton was released. That leaves Vinatieri, the 44-year old legend, as the last man standing from that trio.
“Everybody loves consistency,” Vinatieri told FOX59’s Mike Chappell this past week. “We all do. We all love coming to work knowing who we’ve got and what we’re doing. We all have our quirks and tendencies. When you’re together for a while, you know how to deal with each other. You know how to calm each other down and adjust to each other.’’
That consistency has been broken, however, which means that Vinatieri will be working with a new long snapper and a new holder this year. That’s nothing the 22-year veteran hasn’t dealt with before, but it’s still an adjustment period.
“We’ll see,’’ he said. “Now it’s just going to be a bit of a learning experience. It’s myself and two new guys. It’ll be a different situation for sure.’’
At the time being, it looks like undrafted rookie Thomas Hennessy will be the long snapper, while free agent punter Jeff Locke could be the holder (assuming he wins the punter competition). That will take some getting used to for Vinatieri, who’s had the benefit of having McAfee as his holder for field goal attempts since 2009 and of having Overton as his long snapper since 2012.
“It’s all our mortgages [on the line], so we’ll all make sure we’re hitting on all cylinders,” Vinatieri joked.
In the grand scheme of roster discussion topics, the change in holders and long snappers for Adam Vinatieri is buried on the list. But for the last five years there hasn’t been a second thought given about it, and that could change this year. There’s reason to believe that these guys will be able to work things out, but it’ll be an adjustment for the Colts and for their 44-year old kicker.