SCOTTSDALE, AZ --- They won't play on the same team in Sunday's Pro Bowl, but the story has come full circle as both of the Colts' kickers from training camp this season meet again for the NFL's all-star game. Both will also be the guinea pigs for another NFL kicking experiment similar to the first two weeks of the preseason.
Like those first couple preseason games for each team, PATs will be spotted at the 15-yard line, making those extra points 33-yards long as opposed to the traditional 19-yard attempts (99.3% of PATs were made in the regular season vs. 94.3% in the first two weeks of the preseason). They've also taken it a step further in the Pro Bowl, with the goal posts shrinking down to 14-feet wide for the first time compared to the usual 18.6-feet wide.
"I thought we were going to come to the Pro Bowl and have a laid back fun time," said Adam Vinatieri jokingly, after his Team Irvin Pro Bowl practice Friday. "It'll be interesting. It'll be more difficult...I guess they need to get rid of the receiver gloves for receivers, and quarterbacks have to throw with their opposite hands, because they're all getting too good too."
"You really can't change anything. You just do your same stroke," said Cody Parkey, after his Team Carter Pro Bowl practice Friday. "You just have to hit it a little straighter."
That's exactly how Parkey went from the back-up kicker in Anderson, Indiana for Colts training camp to the Pro Bowl. On August 20, the Colts traded Parkey to the Philadelphia Eagles after the 2nd preseason game for Indianapolis. Parkey, a rookie out of Auburn, went on to make 32-of-36 field goal attempts; meanwhile, Vinatieri, the oldest player in the league at 42-years-old, was voted the best kicker in the league as an All-Pro after making 30-of-31 field goal attempts in the regular season.
"When I first started watching him kick, I thought, 'Man, this kid's pretty good. He can make it in the league.' Well, little did I know, not only make it in the league, but make it to the Pro Bowl his first year, which is a pretty special thing," said Vinatieri. "I kind of paid attention to his career this last year. We texted back and forth a little bit. It's special that he's here. It's awesome."
"It's pretty cool being here with Adam and Pat (McAfee). Pat's back holding for me, the first guy that held for me in Indianapolis" said Parkey. "It's pretty cool how it all worked out. It definitely was a heck of a ride."
Parkey also hit the game-winning field goal against the Colts week 2 for the Eagles, but Indianapolis has probably since forgiven that after reaching the AFC Championship Game, despite that 0-2 start.
"I can't take a lot of credit. He's pretty doggone good," said Vinatieri. "But whenever you have a horseshoe on your helmet, we're all teammates. So, I tried to help him a little bit on some onside kick stuff, just tweaking some little things, but he definitely didn't need any help. He's a great kid, a great worker, and a great kicker."
"I soaked it all in," recalled Parkey of his training camp experience with the Colts. "It was incredible working with those guys…(Vinatieri) has fun with it. He knows when to be serious. He's very consistent in his approach. Every day is kind of the same. He has a mindset that's incredible."
And the student has clearly learned from his first professional teacher as the Colts kickers from training camp will be back on the same field together again Sunday in the Pro Bowl.