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Special Teams Burning Questions Heading Into OTAs

Intro: We are less than a week away from the Colts beginning their 2016 offseason program. Where do the questions start in the special teams groups this season?


INDIANAPOLIS –April on the calendar means work is about to start back up for the Indianapolis Colts.

With the team’s offseason program commencing on April 18, we start our burning question series.

This week, will take a look at the "Burning Questions" among the special teams groups.

Here's a look at the special teams questions heading into the offseason program:

  • Will the new kickoff rule have a significant impact on the Colts and/or their opponents?

Let's be honest.

The Colts shouldn't have any questions about the right legs of their two kickers.

Pat McAfee and a re-signed Adam Vinatieri give the Colts arguably the best kicking duo in the NFL.

So the biggest special teams question in 2016, is about the new kickoff rule coming this season.

Touchbacks will now be placed at the 25-yard line, moved up from the normal 20-yard spot.

A miniscule difference between drives starting from the 20 ending in touchdowns, compared to the 25, is where McAfee believes teams won't differentiate too much from their plan.

With the Colts having a weapon like McAfee, the league’s all-time kickoff king, this makes complete sense.

But you have to think other teams, who have kickers not routinely booming balls into the end zone, will at least experiment with hanging kickoffs to try and stop return teams short of the new touchback-line.

I fully expect some NFL teams to trial and error throughout the preseason to see if it's worth trying come September.

STAT TO NOTE: Last year, Pat McAfee set an NFL-record with a 90.5 percent touchback rate on kickoffs.

  • Will Quan Bray become the Colts' full-time returner in 2016?

The NFL's top return man over the last two months of the 2015 season?

That would be the Colts' Quan Bray.

An injury to Phillip Dorsett brought Bray up to the active roster and the 2015 undrafted free agent didn't disappoint.

From reversing fields and sparking several short drives, Bray's impact was much needed with the Colts' offense lacking consistency.

The Colts have brought in a couple of guys this offseason with return history, but Bray's 2015 contributions won't be overlooked.

With the No. 4 and 5 wide receiver spots seemingly an open competition in 2016, the Colts could even utilize Bray within some offensive sets.

If Bray can prove worthy of adding some offensive responsibilities to his duty list, that would greatly enhance his value to the team's 53-man roster.

STAT TO NOTE: Beginning in November, no NFL player had more kick/punt return yards last season than Quan Bray (166 punt return yards, 570 kick return yards).

  • Where will the Colts turn for core special teamers?

Sergio Brown, Andy Studebaker, Colt Anderson.

Those names of recent Colts' special teamers are no longer on the team's roster.

While the elite kicking pair has stayed in Indy, the Colts have to turn a new page on finding a new era of core special teamers.

Gunner Winston Guy is back for another season and his name is atop that list.

After Guy, the Colts will be scouring the roster this offseason to find reliable options to play on multiple special teams units.

An extra preseason game in 2016 should give the Colts plenty of game reps to evaluate possible special teamers who will warrant a roster spot.

STAT TO NOTE: The Colts allowed 156 kick return yards last season, the fewest allowed for a single-season in NFL history.

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