LEARNING FROM A LEGEND

The Colts selected punter Pat McAfee in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL Draft late last month. McAfee, who also kicked at the University of West Virginia, said he looks forward to learning from veteran Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri.

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Colts Punter McAfee Anxious to Learn from Kicker Adam Vinatieri

INDIANAPOLIS – He attended the same college as a former Colts kicker.

But as Pat McAfee sees it, because that kicker is no longer with the Colts, there's not much he can learn from him.

As for the Colts' current kicker . . .

Well, McAfee said there's much that can be learned from Adam Vinatieri.

And the best time to start is now.

"I'm going to pick that guy's brain for anything I can," McAfee said during the Colts' recent 2009 rookie mini-camp.

"He's a living legend and I cannot wait to meet him and learn from him."

McAfee (6-feet-1, 220 pounds), a kicker/punter who joined the Colts as a seventh-round selection in last month's 2009 NFL Draft, attended West Virginia, the same college at which former Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt played.

Vanderjagt kicked for the Colts from 1998-2005, but while McAfee handled kickoff, extra-point, field-goal and punting duties in college, Colts President Bill Polian said McAfee's initial role with the Colts will be as a punter.

"We view (him) as a punter," Polian said. "He did all three (kickoffs, placements and punts) at West Virginia and he is a very good placekicker, but we view him as a punter."

And although West Virginia used primarily what Polian called "a rugby-style" punting formation, Polian said McAfee is more than capable of doing the job traditionally.

"You will not see any tape of him punting conventionally at West Virginia, because they use that rugby-style punting formation and style, but he can punt conventionally and that's what we're going to have him do," Polian said. "We think he's got a good chance to win the job."

McAfee, the 222nd overall selection of the seventh round, set West Virginia records for games played (51), points (384) and extra points made (210). He also finished second in school history in punting average.

"I've always said, 'I do not mind either or,'" McAfee said. "I thought coming out I could do both, and I enjoy doing both. I think there are pros and cons to both, but punting right now I'm really enjoying. I've never gotten a chance to actually work on punting because I've never been just a punter, and it's a lot of fun right now."

Hunter Smith, the Colts' punter the last 10 seasons who signed with the Washington Redskins as a free agent shortly before the draft, also handled the team's holding duties. Polian shortly following the draft said McAfee also was capable of holding, something with which McAfee said he agreed.

"I've never held in a game," McAfee said. "I cannot say that there are not any stats of me holding. In practice, I used to hold for my backups all the time. I have pretty good hands. I'm pretty athletic. I'm picking it up.

"Coach (Ray) Rychleski is helping me out a lot, and with the way Justin Snow snaps, I don't think it's that tough on me. I hope that's the way things will go. They are going smoothly right now."

McAfee, a colorful, outgoing personality, during the recent Colts' mini-camp downplayed comparisons to Vanderjagt, who also had an flair for the dramatic and colorful.

"If I have half the career here that Mike Vanderjagt had, I think I'll be pretty happy and be a very successful human being in this NFL," McAfee said. "We'll see what happens. I don't know if I have the flair of Mike Vanderjagt. Every man has his own. . . .

"I think we both hit the ball pretty well. I think we can compare to each other like that. We both went to West Virginia. I'm American. He's Canadian, so there's a little bit of a difference there."

McAfee during the three-day mini-camp spent more time discussing the Colts' present kicker, and said because of Vinatieri, Indianapolis is "probably the best place I could have ended up.

"I have a veteran here that I've yet to meet (Adam Vinatieri)," he said. "What a man to learn under. He's a living legend in a specialist world, and this is where I wanted to be. If I was going to be a free agent, I was going to end up in Indianapolis. Turns out I got drafted. I was elated and I'm really excited to be here.

"It's a perfect situation for me, and I'm learning a lot. Coach Ray Rychleski, our special teams coach, is a great guy, and I can't wait get in with him."

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