THE RIGHT DIRECTION

Veteran kicker Adam Vinatieri, after missing much of last season, said he feels healthy entering the 2010 Organized Team Activities.

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Colts Kicker Adam Vinatieri Says He Feels Good Entering 2010 NFL Season

INDIANAPOLIS – Adam Vinatieri said he can't predict the future.

Vinatieri, a 15-year veteran and one of the NFL's best all-time clutch kickers, said this past week he doesn't know precisely how long he will kick professionally, but he said he does know a few a things.

He feels really, really good these days.

He still loves kicking.

And he doesn't have any desire to stop playing anytime soon.

"That's the one thing," Vinatieri said this past week following a session of the Colts' 2010 organized team activities, four weeks of on-field, team-oriented activities scheduled to be held through June 11 at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.

"I always felt like as long as I could stay healthy I could do it for quite a while longer. I feel healthy again, I still love the sas much as I ever have, and I feel like if I can continue to do a good job why not play another handful of years?"

Vinatieri said during the Colts' first week of OTAs this much is true:

He feels healthier than he has in some time.

And considering what he went through last season, he said that's significant.

Vinatieri, in 10 seasons with the New England Patriots and four more with the Colts, not only was one of the NFL's all-time clutch kickers in his first 13 seasons, he was one of the most reliable.

He scored at least 100 points in each of his first 13 NFL seasons and during that span, missed just three games because of injuries. Last year, he kicked in six regular-season games, missing the post-season and converting seven-of-nine field goals and 17-of-18 extra points.

"It's not a lot of fun," Vinatieri said. "Hopefully, it won't happen again anytime soon."

Vinatieri described the season as "extremely frustrating."

"It was something I'd never been a part of before," he said. "I know guys go through some injuries and that kind of stuff, but for me, up until this last year, I'd been pretty doggone healthy and not missed a whole lot of anything. It was tough to stay on the sideline.

"I was extremely happy that our team won and (veteran kicker) Matt (Stover) was here and doing well, so it wasn't like they were missing me too much, but standing on the sideline when you expect to be on the field is a tough thing to swallow."

Vinatieri kicked the first five games last season, then after undergoing mid-season surgery, he remained active throughout the regular season and the post-season. He returned for a Week 16 game against the New York Jets at Lucas Oil Stadium, but after he made one 22-yard field goal in that game, the Colts made the decision to use Stover throughout the post-season.

"I understood the decision," Vinatieri said. "I backed the decision they made. I felt like I could have gone out and done my job. I knew I could have gone – at least I thought I could – but I understood that it was a question mark. The only thing that would have been worse than not playing would have been going out there and re-injuring myself, Now, all of a sudden, you're jeopardizing the success of our team. I understood the decision."

Entering the 2010 OTAs, Vinatieri said, "Everything's healed up and looking good. The entire off-season, we've been working on strengthening everything back and making sure I'll be ready for a long season. Things have been moving in exactly the direction we wanted to go.

"We started our kicking progress now, so we'll be ready to go come training camp, that's for sure."

With that camp a little less than two and a half months away, and with it being Vinatieri's 15th, he said this week he knows from experience that nothing is guaranteed. He said he understands that, and said in the NFL, that's the way it always has been, and the way it must be.

"I think you re-prove yourself no matter what position you are, or who you are and no matter how long you've been in the league," he said. "I feel like every day I step on the field I have to prove myself, not only to myself, but to my team and everybody else.

"That's what kind of keeps you on edge, keeps you focused and keeps you working hard in the off-season. This is a great league, but they don't wait around for you for very long."

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