INDIANAPOLIS — In 24 seasons of kicking footballs in the National Football League, Adam Vinatieri, like any other player, has had his good days and bad days.
And when you’re the greatest player of all-time at your position, the good days — from solid performances in practice to game-winners in the Super Bowl — obviously far outweigh the bad ones.
In last Sunday’s season opener against the Los Angeles Chargers, though, Vinatieri simply wasn’t at his best. But there is good news: Sunday’s Week 2 matchup against the Tennessee Titans gives Vinatieri and his teammates an ideal shot at redemption.
“I feel good,” Vinatieri told reporters on Thursday. “(It was) just a bad day, and the sun came up the next day and we’re back to work and trying to get back on the right track.”
Against the Chargers, Vinatieri missed three kicks in all, including two field goals and an extra point attempt. While he did connect on a 44-yard field goal and another extra-point try in the ballgame, those seven missed points in a tight contest — the Colts fell to the Chargers, 30-24, in overtime — stand out perhaps more than they usually would.
Vinatieri spent the long flight home from the West Coast evaluating what could’ve went wrong with his mechanics that led to the three misses; the first one went wide right, and the next two went wide left.
But he also knows how important it is to stay consistent in his approach.
“Yeah, obviously you go back and you re-evaluate and stuff,” Vinatieri said. “But we’re not re-inventing the wheel; we’re just kicking better.”
Vinatieri said he’s appreciated having the support of his fellow teammates this week, while his head coach, Frank Reich, has been crystal clear about his thoughts on the matter.
“Obviously, Adam didn’t have his best day, but I’ll just keep putting into context: this guy is an elite, elite player,” Reich said Monday. “Not just was. I see it every day in practice that he kicks. So I have watched him in pregame, I have seen him every day in practice. (I have) no concerns that there is any deteriorating of anything physically, and certainly not mentally. This guy is the toughest mental athlete I have ever been around. So, no worries.”
Running back Jonathan Williams was able to make his return to the practice field Thursday after missing about three weeks with a rib injury suffered in the third preseason game against the Browns.
Williams had been putting in a solid training camp and preseason to that point; in two games, the fourth-year Arkansas product had carried the ball 11 times for 39 yards, had five receptions for 33 yards and showed up well in pass protection.
It’s not yet known how the Colts will address the running back situation Sunday against the Titans. Indy went with three active running backs last Sunday in its overtime loss to the Los Angeles Chargers; Marlon Mack (48 snaps) led the way with a career-best 174 rushing yards, while Nyheim Hines added 13 yards on four carries, playing 17 offensive snaps in all.
Jordan Wilkins, meanwhile, logged 15 snaps, all on special teams, against the Chargers.
The Indianapolis Colts take the field for their second practice of the week at the Indiana Farm Bureau Center before they travel to Tennessee for their first divisional matchup of the season against the Titans.
Rushing from inside
Justin Houston has been one of the best edge rushers in the NFL since he was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft.
But last Sunday against the Chargers, Houston found himself lined up all over the defensive line, finding success getting after the passer both off the edge and from the interior.
Houston finished his Colts debut with three tackles and one sack; he had four quarterback hurries in all and was assigned a solid 86.8 game grade as a pass rusher by Pro Football Focus.
Mixing in with fellow defensive ends Al-Quadin Muhammad, Kemoko Turay and Ben Banogu, Houston found himself at times going up against some of the Chargers’ interior offensive linemen, which is quite the difference compared to lining up off the edge.
“Double teams,” Houston said Thursday with a laugh when asked what feels different about rushing from the interior. “It’s a big difference. You are taking on a tight end and a tackle – and a tackle and a guard. That’s a huge weight difference.”
Houston has prior experience playing inside from his eight seasons with the Chiefs, who would at times shift the Georgia product from his usual outside linebacker spot to an interior defender during rush downs.
But the veteran wasn’t going to spill the beans about whether or not that’ll be the plan with the Colts moving forward.
“That’s the coaches’ decision,” Houston said. “I am just here to play ball.”
Here's the full injury report from Thursday's practice:
» DNP: LB Zaire Franklin (hip); S Clayton Geathers (not injury related; rest); DE Jabaal Sheard (knee); DE Kemoko Turay (neck)
» Limited: WR Deon Cain (heat related); CB Ryan Lewis (heat related); RB Jonathan Williams (rib)
» Full: N/A
— This is the first time Franklin has appeared on the injury report. Geathers, meanwhile, had a veterans' day off last week, as well.
— Turay has missed the team's last three practices with a neck injury. He was questionable heading into last Sunday's season opener against the Chargers, and not only was able to play, but excelled with a sack and several other pressures.