INDIANAPOLIS — With the Indianapolis Colts set to begin training camp soon at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center in Indianapolis, Colts.com previews the team's special teamers.
» Chase McLaughlin (kicker)
» Luke Rhodes (long snapper)
» Rigoberto Sanchez (punter/kickoffs)
» Rodrigo Blankenship (kicker)
NOTABLE CAMP BATTLES:
» Adam Vinatieri (kicker)
For the first time since 2005, the Colts could be entering the regular season with a new kicker, which highlights the special teams storylines heading into the 2020 season.
Adam Vinatieri, who wrapped up his 14th season with the Colts in 2019, and his 24th NFL season overall, underwent knee surgery late last year and was placed on injured reserve, paving the way for rookie Chase McLaughlin — also a 2019 Pro Football Focus All-Rookie Team selection — to handle the team's kicking duties for the final four games.
With Vinatieri a free agent, McLaughlin and 2020 undrafted rookie Rodrigo Blankenship are now expected to battle it out for the Colts' kicking job moving forward.
Elsewhere, it's business as usual at punter and long snapper, as Rigoberto Sanchez and Luke Rhodes return for their third seasons in Indy in 2020.
Sanchez had another solid year as the team's punter and kickoff specialist in 2019. He was PFF's fifth-best rated punter (73.4 grade) with 59 punts for 2,719 yards for an average of 44.4 yards per punt; he pinned 26 punts inside the 20-yard line and had just one touchback, while opponents averaged just 5.9 yards per punt return, the eighth-lowest figure in the league. Sanchez also had the sixth-highest touchback percentage on kickoffs (75.9) in the NFL.
Back for more after a historic end to the 2019 season is punt returner Nyheim Hines, who had a league leading two punt return touchdowns, both of which came Week 16 against the Carolina Panthers. In fact, the Colts in 2019 not only led the league with a 17.4 yards-per-punt-return average — an astounding six yards better per return than the second-place New York Jets — but that 17.4 figure was the fifth-best punt return average in NFL history, and the best mark since 1961, when the Green Bay Packers averaged 17.8 yards per return.
Several players are in the running for the Colts' kickoff returner job, meanwhile, including, but not limited to, Hines, Parris Campbell, Zach Pascal and rookie Isaiah Rodgers.
» Who could become the Colts' first new Week 1 kicker since 2005?
» Who will win the kickoff returner job?
» How will special teams ability affect the depth at offensive and defensive position groups?
Find the answers to these questions by clicking here.