Jeff Locke Eager To Punt, Work With Adam Vinatieri

Intro: New Colts punter Jeff Locke was the first new face to join the Colts in free agency. Why was Locke attracted to the situation in Indianapolis?

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INDIANAPOLIS – It probably did not take long for Jeff Locke to realize that the No. 18 jersey he's worn in college and the NFL would not be available in his new home.

Peyton Manning wore No. 18 for the Colts. No one is wearing that number again.

So Locke has cut his original jersey number in half, and will don No. 9 as he takes over for Pat McAfee this fall.

One Hall of Fame number is off Locke's back, but he's going to be working directly with another.

After signing with the Colts on the first day of free agency, Locke received a call from Adam Vinatieri.

Even though the Colts offseason program, when Locke and Vinatieri will begin working together was weeks away, the new punter/holder wanted to get ahead of things.

The Colts sign punter Jeff Locke.

"I want to talk to him so he can show me tips and tricks that he's learned over the years," Locke says of Vinatieri. "Really one of the first things I want to know in talking to Adam is how exactly he likes the balls. So when I'm practicing the next couple of months at home, I know exactly what I'm doing."

With McAfee retired, that leaves three tasks unfilled: punting, holding, kicking off.

The duties for Locke in Indianapolis will definitely include punting. Holding, which Locke did in Minnesota, will likely be his job as well.

Kicking off is something Locke did not do in Minnesota, but he's prepared to do it with the Colts.

"I actually kicked off all of high school and all of college," Locke says. "It's something I've still have worked on all offseason to keep up and it's something I see as a blessing in disguise kind of saving my hips and legs for four years and now I get to jump into what I like doing a lot."

Locke's punting style is more of a directional approach, with him excelling in pinning punts inside the 20-yard line last season.

In 2016, Locke ranked as the NFL's 29th punter in gross average (42.6) and 25th in net punting average (39.0). Locke's 34 punts inside the 20-yard line last year did set a team record.

Where as McAfee was the ultimate weapon for the Colts on special teams, Locke will try to control field position in other ways.

When Locke, a 2013 fifth-round pick out of UCLA, hit free agency hits offseason, the appeal to the Colts was immediate.

"When I was in Minnesota this was one of the teams we had to scout and prep for the hardest," Locke says of the Colts. "(Special teams) coach (Tom) McMahon is definitely one of the best in the business.

"Having guys like Adam, Matt (Overton) and Pat, who is now gone, it was always dangerous playing them and I'm looking forward to kind of jumping in and doing my best to help out."

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