Colts stick with ‘our guy’ Vinatieri amid struggles

NFL

INDIANAPOLIS — If the Colts are going to continue struggling in the kicking game, they’re going to do so with veteran Adam Vinatieri for the immediate future.

Colts coach Frank Reich, after talking with general manager Chris Ballard, on Wednesday said Vinatieri, who is having the most disappointing season of his 24-year NFL career, is “our guy” when it comes to kicking.

“Chris and I have talked about the situation; we have confidence in Adam,” Reich said. “Obviously, there have been other kickers in here working out. We have confidence in Adam. He’s not just our kicker, he’s a leader on our team — a captain, a presence. This is important. We feel like we need him going forward and have the utmost confidence in him.”

Vinatieri, who became the NFL’s all-time leading scorer in 2018 and will likely be in the Hall of Fame once his career is over, has cost the Colts (5-4) at least two games this season with misses against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 1 and the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 9. He missed an extra point against Miami, which meant the Colts had to go for a touchdown on their final possession of a 16-12 loss to the Dolphins last weekend.

Vinatieri’s problems has twice caused Ballard to work out kickers. The Colts had six kickers in for workouts prior to Week 3, and then another four worked out for the team earlier this week.

Vinatieri has only made 70% of his extra point attempts (14 of 20) this season. He’s on pace to have the worse success rate of any kicker with at least 20 extra points in NFL history, according to ESPN Stats & Information. His 73.7% success rate on field goal attempts (14 of 19) is only slightly better than 2003, when he made a career-low 73.5% of his attempts.

Those types of poor numbers would normally result in a player getting released, but the Colts are going to continue to stick with Vinatieri because, Reich said, “you treat everyone fairly, but not everyone the same.”

“I think it makes sense,” Reich said. “And everyone understands it, with 24 years of what he’s done, there’s a sense we believe in him. If you’re going through a rough patch, we’re going to be a little bit more patient than normal.”

The Colts are currently on a two-game losing streak and a game behind the Houston Texans for first place in the AFC South. They have three straight games against division opponents, including a Nov. 21 game at the Texans.

“His mental toughness, I really, really value that,” Reich said of Vinatieri. “I believe in him. I believe whatever we’re going through is just a phase. He’s going to help us win games and get us where we want to go.”

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