INDIANAPOLIS – Adam Vinatieri, regarded as the greatest clutch kicker of all time, expects to be back in the Colts lineup soon.
We havent really had any speed bumps, which is good. All of our expectations are to get back soon. I dont know what that means, but soon as we can, said Vinatieri, who has missed the last five games after knee surgery. Were moving in the right direction. Im not putting any timetables on it, but hopefully well be ready to rock and roll soon.
Sacrilegious as it might sound, its unclear whether Vinatieri remains the best person for the job, and this could be the most compelling lineup decision the Colts have to make down the stretch.
If the Colts had brought in a stiff off the street to be Vinatieris replacement, this wouldnt be a discussion. But since his replacement, Matt Stover, is also one of the greatest of all time, and since hes made all seven of his attempts, it could be an issue.
No matter who is out there, whether its myself or Matt, the team will be in pretty good hands, Vinatieri said. If he continues to do well, you never know, hey, why not make it a tough decision?
Thats true, but the last thing an undefeated, Super Bowl-contending team needs is a distraction, and this could be one.
The Colts have been involved in more close games than any team in the NFL; six games have been decided by four or fewer points. That includes last weeks 17-15 victory over Baltimore, with the difference being a Stover field goal.
Ive never been 5-0, much less 10-0, so if youre asking me how much fun Im having? This is a blast, said Stover, whose Colts will take on Houston (5-5) today at Reliant Stadium.
Whats unique about this situation is not just that the Colts have such accomplished kickers – Stover has won a Super Bowl, and Vinatieri has won four – but that both are so good in pressure-filled situations.
You have to understand (if) its a fourth-quarter kick, youve got to make those, Stover said. If you ask Adam the same thing, (hell say) you have to relish those opportunities. If you dont want them as a kicker, get out of the game.
Dont you think a team like Houston, which has seen Kris Brown miss two late potential game-tying field goals in the last two weeks, would kill to have either of the Colts kickers?
Its likely the Colts will stick with Vinatieri, 36, when he gets back into the lineup, but its important to consider he had surgery on his right knee and hip last summer, and thats the same knee that had cartilage removed from it in October. Also, Vinatieris reliability has slipped a bit in the last year and a half; he is 26 for 33 in that span.
Of course, Stover was a free agent early this season, after making 27 of 33 kicks last season. Baltimore must regret letting him go, though. Maybe the Ravens thought he was over the hill at 41. Clearly, hes not.
Ive spoken with retired kickers like Norm Johnson, Morten Andersen, Gary Anderson and they said, There will be a euphoric feeling coming over you when you know you dont have to come up with those game winners anymore, Stover said. But I still want to do it, and I know theres a lot more kicking to be done this year, and Im excited to be out there doing it.