Rookie Kicker Brett Swenson Likes Attitude Around the Colts
INDIANAPOLIS – Brett Swenson knows the difficult task he faces.
Not only is he a rookie kicker trying to make it in a league with just more than 32 jobs for players such as himself, he's trying to make a roster that includes one of the great players ever to play professional football at his position.
That player? Adam Vinatieri?
Vinatieri is a 14-year NFL veteran.
He has played in five Super Bowls, and won four. Twice he has kicked the game-winning field goals in Super Bowls.
So, Swenson – who played collegiately at Michigan State University – said he doesn't know his chances of making the Colts' roster. And as a result, he said he's not focusing much on those chances.
He said he just wants to kick as well as he can.
After that he said whatever happens, happens.
"He's obviously a great kicker," said Swenson, a collegiate free-agent signee by the Colts shortly after the 2010 NFL Draft and one of multiple rookies who will be profiled on Colts.com in the coming weeks.
"I've watched him over the years. He's done some great stuff. I'm just coming out here. I haven't met him and I'm just coming into the situation. I definitely know a lot about him from watching games.
"He's definitely a great kicker."
That label fit Swenson the last few years at Michigan State.
Swenson (5-feet-8, 173 pounds), who kicked four seasons for the Spartans, finished as the program's all-time leader not only in scoring with 377 career points, but also field goals made (71) and extra points made (164). He led Michigan State in scoring this past season with 101 points, making 19 of 22 field goals and 44 of his 45 extra points and played in the Senior Bowl this past January.
He was named the Spartans' Most Valuable Player this past season, the first time in school history a kicker had received the honor.
"He was overwhelmingly the guy," Michigan State Head Coach Mark Dantonio told the Booth Newspaper chain after Swenson received the honor. "When you do something that never has been done at a university of this magnitude and with this type of football background, that's a statement."
And while Swenson played and accomplished special things at a storied collegiate program, he said that didn't make him immune to being very aware of the moment in early May when he and the rest of the Colts' rookie free agent and 2010 NFL Draft class attended the 2010 rookie mini-camp.
"You definitely see it's a great tradition, just from different things in the locker room with championships, and things like that," Swenson said. "You can see they kind of surround themselves with it and I think it's good. It's a real positive attitude when you walk into the locker room."
A first-team All-Big 10 selection, he also is second in Big 10 history in scoring among kickers, fourth in total points and sixth in extra points. He also became the second kicker in school history to score 100 points in consecutive seasons, with the other being former Colts kicker Dave Rayner.
"Doing well in college definitely gives you confidence going out there, but when you get to this level, everybody's done well in college," Swenson said. "I'm sort of coming out here and starting over. It feels like you're a freshman coming into college again."
Swenson said while he is looking forward to competing for a position, he also is looking forward to learning whatever he can about the NFL as quickly as he can. Vinatieri, he said, is a player from which any young kicker likely can learn.
"He has great knowledge of the kicking game, and everything like that, so we'll see when he gets out here and we're really kicking," Swenson said.
Swenson, as is the case with the rest of the Colts' rookies, will return to Indianapolis next week for the beginning of organized team activities. When they do, Swenson will continue the process of trying to earn a roster position.
Sometimes with kickers, as much as any position, doing so is a long process that requires working with multiple teams. Other times, as was the case with Vinatieri when he was a free agent rookie with the New England Patriots in 1996, a rookie kicker will make the team and solidify himself with a franchise.
Swenson said he doesn't yet know his fate, but said he'll do whatever he can and whatever happens, happens.
"I definitely have to come out here, do what I can and see how it plays out," Swenson said. "Some people stick when they first go to a team, or they bounce around and take a little different path. I'll see how the cards fall. I'm going to come out here and do what I can.
"I'll learn, have a good time and see how it plays out."