INDIANAPOLIS — With the Indianapolis Colts set to begin training camp soon at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind., Colts.com previews the team's special teamers.
» Luke Rhodes (long snapper)
» Rigoberto Sanchez (punter/kickoffs)
» Adam Vinatieri (kicker)
NOTABLE CAMP BATTLES:
» Cole Hedlund (kicker)
Just how much do the Colts believe in their three core special teamers? Well, all three of them — long snapper Luke Rhodes, punter Rigoberto Sanchez and kicker Adam Vinatieri — were signed to contract extensions this offseason.
The 46-year-old Vinatieri returns for his 24th NFL season in 2019 — his 14th in Indy — after having eclipsed Morten Andersen to become the league's all-time leader in career points scored and made field goals in 2018.
Sanchez, meanwhile, was one of the league's top punters in 2018, totaling 57 punts for 2,629 yards (a 46.1 yards-per-punt average) and 24 of his punts were pinned inside the 20-yard line. Sanchez's 42.7 net punting average ranked third in the NFL, and his 59 kickoff touchbacks ranked fifth in the league.
The Colts last season ranked first in the NFL in lowest punt return average allowed (4.4 yards) — they were just one of three teams to not allow a punt return of 20-plus yards on the year — and opponents averaged just 22 yards per kickoff return against Indy, the ninth-lowest figure in the league.
The Colts also return their kickoff (Zach Pascal) and punt (Chester Rogers) returners from 2018, but there could be some fierce competition for both spots in camp and in the preseason. Rookies Parris Campbell and Penny Hart could get some reps, as could second-year running back Nyheim Hines, among others.