Special Teams Burning Questions Heading Into OTAs

Intro: Players return for work on Monday, April 17 with the start of the Colts offseason program. What are the burning questions for the special teams going into the 2017 offseason?


INDIANAPOLIS –We are less than a week away from players flocking back to the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center for work.

The Colts will start their nine-week offseason program on Monday, April 17.

Over the next week, Colts.com will take a look at the "Burning Questions" for all remaining position groups going into the 2017 offseason.

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

Will the Jeff Locke be able to fill Pat McAfee's duties?

For the first time since 2008, Pat McAfee will not be booming balls inside of Lucas Oil Stadium this fall.

Instead, the left-footed Jeff Locke will be the team's punter.

Locke arrives in Indianapolis after four seasons as the punter in Minnesota.

Comparing Locke's numbers to McAfee tells you that the Colts are not getting the same dominant punter that retired earlier this offseason.

Locke was the NFL's 29th punter in gross average (39.0) last year and 25th in net punting average (39.0). McAfee ranked top three in both categories.

What the Colts need from Locke is his ability to control the return game (Locke did have 34 punts inside the 20-yard line last year, the fifth most in the NFL).

Expect Locke to take over kickoff duties, too. Locke did not do that in Minnesota, but says he continues to practice it every offseason and thinks a fresh leg in that area of the game will help him handle that responsibility.

When Locke signed with the Colts back in March he was eager to get ahold of Adam Vinatieri to talk about the holder/kicker dynamic, another area Locke will likely be asked to do in 2017.

STAT TO NOTE: Jeff Locke was taken in the 5th round of the 2013 NFL Draft (155th overall). That's the highest a punter has been chosen since 2012.**

How much will Adam Vinatieri pad his Hall of Fame resume?**

It's no longer a question of if Adam Vinatieri will be a Hall of Famer.

The only lingering questions is "when" and how impressive Vinatieri's resume will look like when he ends his historic career.

Vinatieri just wrapped up a 21st NFL season going 27-of-31 on field goals, 17 of which came from at least 40 yards out.

Accuracy and distance do not seem to be wavering from the 44-year-old right leg of Vinatieri.

If Vinny continues to kick at his normal pace, he will break two of the greatest records in NFL history by 2018.

Vinny has made 530 career field goals, third on the all-time list. He's 35 behind No. 1 on the list, Morten Andersen. Vinny has made more than 31 field goals in a season only once in his career, so early 2018 is the more realistic target for that record.

Vinny has scored 2,378 career points, also third on the all-time list. He's 166 points behind Andersen's spot atop the list. Vinny's career-high for points in a single season is 140, so 2018 is also the more likely year for him to add this record to his resume.

The 2017 season is a contract year for Vinatieri. He's shown no signs of slowing down and not meriting a new contract next offseason.

STAT TO NOTE: Adam Vinatieri has the NFL record for most consecutive field goals made at 44.**

Who are the Colts kick and punt returners in 2017?**

It's taken a few years, but the Colts saw some nice field position returns from their special teams last season.

When Quan Bray went on injured reserve in October, the Colts were searching for new returners.

Jordan Todman gave them more than a spark at kick return. Rookie Chester Rogers grew into a pretty solid punt returner by the end of the season.

Bray and Rogers are back in 2017. Todman, a 2017 unrestricted free agent, is not.

From a roster mechanics standpoint, Bray and Rogers could be in a "2-for-1" numbers crunch come cut-down time. Bray has shown plenty of return ability, but Rogers definitely brings more to the receiver position.

Will Rogers handle both kick and punt return duties?

Can Bray offer more glimpses of being a receiver this offseason?

Could Josh Ferguson (four kick returns last season) factor into a return spot?

STAT TO NOTE: Last year the Colts ranked 4th in the NFL in kickoff return average at 25.1 yards per return.[*

ICYMI: Quarterback Burning Questions*](http://www.colts.com/news/article-burningquestions/Quarterback-Burning-Questions-Heading-Into-OTAs/af458382-a8fc-4721-9bd4-73fe16dafc45)**

The analysis from those producing content on Colts.com does not necessarily represent the thoughts of the Indianapolis Colts organization. Any conjecture, analysis or opinions formed by Colts.com content creators is not based on inside knowledge gained from team officials, players or staff.*

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