WESTFIELD, Ind. — Now in his 23rd NFL training camp, you could say that Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri is a valuable resource for young players to utilize.
Young players of all ages and stages of their careers, actually.
This year, Vinatieri's son A.J. is here at Colts camp helping out as a ball boy until he reports for his freshman year of high school and his own football season.
A.J. kicks and plays some defensive end, so Vinatieri has his son spending a lot of his time with the team helping out the franchise's all-time leader in sacks and current pass rush consultant, Robert Mathis.
"You're gonna go stand next to Rob the entire practice," Vinatieri said of A.J. "I told him, 'You should probably bring a notepad and just take notes the whole time. You'd learn more from him than you could learn in a lifetime, just hanging out with him for a couple of days.'"
Having a future Hall of Fame kicker as a father to help advance your kicking abilities, and his friend with 123 career sacks in the NFL to help teach you to become a pass rusher? There are worse ways to learn the sport of football.
Vinatieri isn't just a mentor to A.J., though. The Colts have had several young kickers play behind Vinatieri during training camp throughout the years, and some of them have gone on to have some success with other teams. Two of the most recent examples are current Chicago Bears kicker Cody Parkey and Brandon McManus of the Denver Broncos.
This year, rookie Mike Badgley from the University of Miami is backing up Vinatieri and kicking for the 45-year-old during his veteran days off.
Colts.com asked Vinatieri on Saturday if Badgley has been leaning on him for some guidance.
"He's a good kid, and he's a really good kicker as well," Vinatieri said. "He's got a nice leg and he's doing a good job picking my brain. We joke around that he's always kind of in my back pocket all the time, and rightfully so.
"I know when I was in camp my rookie year, Matt Bahr was an 18-year vet and I tried to learn everything I could from him. Just experiences and how to prepare and how to get your body ready and how to do this, and this and this. He's (Badgley) a smart kid and a good kid, great kicker, and we've had a lot of good conversations."
Could Badgley be next in the line of former Vinatieri protégés who goes on to earn his own kicking job? So far, he's taking the right approach.