INDIANAPOLIS – From 2013 to 2016, Tom McMahon would work with a trio of Pro Bowlers in his special teams room.
Long snapper Matt Overton (2013), punter Pat McAfee (2014, 2016) and Adam Vinatieri (2014) comprised easily one of the most consistent contingent of specialists in the NFL.
But like virtually all things in the NFL, change seeps into the smallest of cracks.
McMahon, the special teams coordinator in Indianapolis, begins 2017 with the first personnel turnover he's had to experience in his five seasons with the Colts.
Gone is McAfee, arguably the game's top punter/kickoff man.
Gone is Overton, the team's steady long snapper since 2012.
Faces have changed for McMahon, but the mindset will not.
"Adam, Pat, Matt, they established this a long time ago that when you walk into that office you're a Pro Bowler," McMahon says of his special teams room.
"Those (new) guys want to come in and want to perfect that. There's no question the standards are set high. To me, it's one of those things where you can mess around trying to be good or want to be great. We want to be great."
Replacing McAfee is Jeff Locke, who comes to Indy after four seasons with the Vikings.
In evaluating the next punter, McMahon did his research in making sure Locke had kickoff ability, something he was not asked to do in Minnesota.
Back at the 2013 NFL Combine, Locke averaged 4.39-seconds of kickoff hang time during his workout, which is a very impressive number, according to McMahon.
From his studies, McMahon believes Locke has the talent to boom kickoffs or hang them, if the Colts choose to play more of a field position game.
"I think Jeff has great leg talent," McMahon says. "He's shown that these last few weeks."
Locke will now begin working with new long snapper Thomas Hennessy.
An undrafted free agent out of Duke, Hennessy impressed McMahon during a pre-draft workout.
"You see his size, his velocity, his accuracy, you see his ability to protect," McMahon says of the traits he likes in Hennessy.
The newness of Locke and Hennessy can make for some nerves.
That uneasiness is never associated with Vinatieri, who is returning for a 22nd NFL season.
Over the next month, Vinatieri will begin working with a new snapper, for the first time since 2011 and a new holder, for the first time since 2008.
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