The Indianapolis Colts unofficially opened the competition for Adam Vinatieri‘s eventual successor during this week’s preseason game against the New York Giants. Contestant No . 1 is Cody Parkey, a rookie who was ranked first in the nation his senior college year in touchbacks. Contestant No. 2, after begging for a chance, is punter Pat McAfee.
Back during the Mike Vanderjagt administration, the Colts were known to carry three kickers on their roster. That strategy worked, but in today’s NFL economy, that sort of thing is no longer viable. Parkey probably isn’t going to be on the Colts’ roster come September, even though he has played well.
His kickoffs were solid, he made field goals against the Giants from 45 and 31 yards, and he even recovered a fumbled kickoff return that made me proclaim my undying love … even though I’d never heard of him before. But was it enough?
McAfee has said that he’d love to one day take on all three aspects of kicking. Chuck Pagano has said that it’s too much for one guy to handle, and they’d probably have to keep another kicker around in case of injury anyway. But the other lingering issue is that Andrew Luck has a much-deserved payday coming. If one guy handled all the kicks, that might help bridge the gap a little. Plus, it would mean more McAfee in our Sundays, and frankly, us fans deserve that.
Against the Colts’ first and second units, the Giants’ performance was reminiscent of Brazil vs. Germany in the World Cup, or maybe the East Dillon Lions that one time they forfeited. That probably says more about the Giants than the Colts. But even with all the offensive and defensive highlights, the enduring image of the game for me was McAfee striding out to near midfield to attempt a game winning 64-yard field goal.
To put that in perspective, the record field goal in NFL history is 64 yards, set by the Denver Broncos‘ Matt Prater last season in mile-high air. Maybe the Colts’ were messing around a little, having some fun since it’s preseason. But it looked like McAfee had the distance, even if the kick went wide left. Coach Pagano even hinted that McAFee might get more chances.
The Colts seem to be experimenting with both conventional and creative approaches to a post-Vinatieri world. That’s good. Right now, there doesn’t seem to be a “wrong” answer. But when McAfee stepped on the field to attempt the field goal, the remaining crowd in Indianapolis went bananas.
Everybody wanted to see him try, and everyone thought he had a reasonable chance of making it. Next time, he will.