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Special Teams Burning Questions Heading Into Training Camp

Intro: The Colts will report to Training Camp in just a few days. With our last “Burning Questions” series, we look at the questions for the special teams units in 2016.


INDIANAPOLIS –When you have Adam Vinatieri and Pat McAfee on your roster, sleep should not be too hard to come by for special teams coordinator Tom McMahon.

As McMahon looks towards 2016, it's the other areas of his special teams units that are more up in the air.

Our final "Burning Questions" series examines the questions for the special teams units heading into Training Camp.

  • Will we see the Colts making any changes with their kicking strategies this season?

The short, and likely, answer is: No.

The Colts have arguably the best kicking duo in the NFL, so why mess with success?

You can be assured though that the Colts at least discussed how rule changes will impact the kicking game.

Touchbacks following kickoffs now place teams at the 25-yard line, up from the 20-yard line.

Expect Pat McAfee to continue to boom kickoffs into the end zone. The Colts don't see too stark of a difference in trying to pooch kickoffs and relying on coverage units to make plays short of the 25-yard line.

In regards to extra points, the Colts, like most of the NFL, shied away from attempting two-point conversions during normal game flow.

Adam Vinatieri was 32-of-35 (91.4 percent) on PATs last season and 25-of-27 (92.6 percent) on field goals. Those percentages will keep the Colts with their same strategy from last season---kicking the 33-yard extra points.

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

  • Is Quan Bray the return man for the Colts?

It's not often a skill player sees three total offensive snaps of action in two months, but still keeps his roster spot.

That shows you just how important the Colts viewed Quan Bray last season.

In November and December, Bray took full advantage of an open roster spot due to the injury to Phillip Dorsett.

Bray took over return duties, on both kickoffs and punts, and led the NFL in combined return yards over the final two months of 2015.

Where Bray's role could evolve even more in 2016 is if he can prove himself in an offensive setting.

The Colts liked what Bray did as a wide receiver during last year's Training Camp.

Can Bray seize the No. 4 or No. 5 receiver spot, thus giving the Colts some roster flexibility with their return man also being a backup wideout?

STAT TO NOTE: Beginning with November, Quan Bray had the most kick/punt return yards in the NFL (166 punt return yards, 570 kick return yards) last season.**


  • Who will fill out the rest of the Colts special teams units?

It's not a storyline that will sell many papers at Training Camp.

Who are going to the core special teamers for the Colts in 2016?

The vets who have made up that group in the past---Colt Anderson, Sergio Brown, Andy Studebaker---are no longer in Indianapolis.

Safety/gunner Winston Guy is back for another season.

Besides Guy, the Colts will need to find another gunner, and several other players who can play on multiple units.

This is something to pay attention to when roster cuts roll around: Aug. 30 (90-to-75) and final cuts on Sept. 3 (75-to-53).

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

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