The Indianapolis Colts made a quiet signing on Sunday that got attentive fans excited, if not for the possibility of the future, then for past nostalgia. Deji Karim is probably best known for running back a 101-yard kickoff for a touchdown against the Houston Texans during coach Chuck Pagano‘s “welcome back” game in December of 2012.
Karim is a running back and special teams player who was originally drafted in the sixth round by the Jacksonville Jaguars and has since bounced around the mighty AFC South. He’s been signed and cut several times and contributed on practice squads. Despite his career fluctuations, he currently ranks fourth in the AFC in kickoff returns with an average (average!) of 25.6 yards. No doubt that number is buoyed by his aforementioned famous touchdown return, but it still holds across 33 games in four seasons.
What Karim’s return is a reminder of (other than the obvious fuzzy-warm memories) is that the Colts’ special teams unit is slowly but surely inching toward must-see-TV. In the preseason game against the New York Giants, the Colts’ special teamers (featuring rookie kicker Cody Parkey) forced and recovered a fumble on a kickoff return. Loucheiz Purifoy, a cornerback/special teams player, returned two punts for an average of 18.5 yards; his movement was erratic but exciting in a way Colts fans aren’t used to. And punter/kicker Pat McAfee, newly signed to a multi-year deal, continues to pin opponents deep. Rookie receiver Donte Moncrief is likely to field kicks, and coach Pagano hasn’t ruled out using T.Y. Hilton in special teams situations, too.
Colts’ special teams plays (short of the occasional breakout run from “Big Play Ray” Buchanan) used to be a great time to get a snack. At some undefined point that stopped being the case, even if we haven’t all realized it yet.