— Adam Vinatieri vividly remembers his last game against Morten Andersen.
Andersen had already logged more than 20 seasons in the NFL Chiefs Game Jerseys , was well into his 40s, nearing the end of his career and still kicking as well as anyone in the league. Back then, Vinatieri marveled at how the seemingly ageless Andersen managed to excel for so long.
Now, more than a decade later, Vinatieri finds himself grinding through his 23rd NFL training camp, hoping to join the NFL’s career scoring leader in the Hall of Fame. Andersen was inducted last year.
“I would have liked to have seen a handful more kickers and punters make it in there, but finally getting a second kicker in and Ray Guy getting in, it’s good that we have some representation in there because those guys did a lot for the league,” the Indianapolis Colts kicker said.
Andersen’s induction last year provided hope to specialists such as Vinatieri that they, too, could be headed to Canton, Ohio, one day.
Until Andersen’s selection, Vinatieri wasn’t sure. The only one other “pure” kicker to earn pro football’s highest distinction was Jan Stenerud in 1991. Guy was elected in 2014, ending the shutout for punters.
Some believe Vinatieri could be next.
His sterling resume glistens with Hall of Fame credentials: four Super Bowl rings, the league record for 100-point seasons (20) and second all-time in career scoring (2 Authentic Courtland Sutton Jersey ,487 points). Anderson finished with 2,544 and Vinatieri needs 58 points to break the record, which could happen at midseason if all goes well.
He owns the career record for scoring in postseason games (234), is the only player to top 1,000 points and make 200 field goals with two teams, has celebrated a league-record 225 victories, including playoffs, and made a league-high 44 consecutive field goals. If Vinatieri completes this season, he would become only the third 46-year-old player to suit up for an NFL team.
His highlight reel contains some of the most memorable kicks in league history: two last-minute field goals to win Super Bowls and the tying and winning kicks in the infamous Snow Bowl, which helped New England win the first of its five Lombardi Trophies. He has been dubbed the best clutch kicker in league history and there’s no indication “Automatic Adam” is slowing down.
“It’s ridiculous,” holder Rigoberto Sanchez said. “It’s honestly out of this world, I think. Twenty-three years in the league, still kicking the ball the way he kicks it, 60 yards out in practice. It’s unreal.”
Just how much has Vinatieri seen and done during his career?
He is the last link to the NFL’s developmental league in Europe, the one Andrew Luck’s father worked with, and one of only two players left from the 1990s. Former teammate Phil Dawson is the other.
Vinatieri joined the league before former teammates Peyton Manning and Tom Brady Youth Rashaan Evans Jersey , still reminds people he once tackled Herschel Walker and acknowledges missing on Desmond Howard and Devin Hester as they returned his kickoffs for Super Bowl scores.
He played for Hall of Fame coaches Bill Parcells and Tony Dungy, in addition to Bill Belichick. His newest coach, Frank Reich, actually threw for 281 yards against the Patriots during Vinatieri’s rookie season in 1996.
Somehow, though, he remains the epitome of consistency.
Last year, with a new long snapper and a new holder, Vinatieri still made 85.3 percent of his field goals and scored 109 points and now he’s back with his oldest son, A.J., serving as a ball boy at training camp.
“It comes to a point where Adam is Mr. Clutch over here, so (long snapper) Luke (Rhodes) just tries to do his job right and get the 12 o’clock laces and I try to get the ball in the spot that he likes and let him do the rest,” said Sanchez, who wasn’t even born until a week after Vinatieri’s NFL debut in 1996. “He’s been kicking it straight for a long time.”
Despite the honors, the nicknames and the Hall of Fame predictions, Vinatieri knows he may still need more to follow the kicker he has been watching since his younger days in South Dakota into the NFL’s most hallowed halls.
“I don’t think it hurts, that’s for sure Customized Green Bay Packers Jerseys ,” Vinatieri said. “It’s one of those things that I haven’t really though too much about it. I’m still just trying to help my team win games and keep on putting chapters in this book and if that happens, fantastic.”
NOTES: The Colts have activated starting safeties Clayton Geathers and Malik Hooker from the physically unable to perform list Thursday. Both were coming off knee surgery. … Guard Jeremy Vujnovich also was activated from PUP. He had been out with an injured calf after starting all 16 games last season.
Marcus Mariota ran to his right, looked to pass and found nobody open. So the Tennessee quarterback pump-faked, darted left and flew past rookie linebacker Harold Landry III.
Yes, Mariota is looking very healthy in the opening days of training camp.
And the quarterback isn’t wearing a knee brace either. It’s a perfect combination for Mariota learning yet another new offense with his third different head coach. A healthy Mariota gives the Titans the chance to maximize their offense with the quarterback going into his fourth NFL season with the team already having picked up his fifth-year option for 2019.
”To have the opportunity to go out there and get reps physically, it’s so pivotal for me,” Mariota said Friday. ”You know, I’m definitely a reps guy. I’m definitely a mental guy, so when I’m out there, and I get the opportunity to practice, it means the world to me, and I think that being healthy has just given me that opportunity.”
Mariota came to Tennessee in 2015 as a Heisman Trophy winner and the No. 2 pick overall in the draft with Ken Whisenhunt as his first head coach. That relationship ended with Whisenhunt fired in November with his quarterback missing two of the first seven games with a sprained knee.
Mike Mularkey took the job for the rest of that season with Mariota missing the final two games after spraining his other knee. Mariota has missed only one game each of the past two seasons with the Titans going 9-7 in each, but the quarterback broke his right leg on Christmas Eve of 2016 . Mariota missed a loss in Miami last season after hurting a hamstring.
Mariota led the Titans to their first playoff berth since 2008 and first postseason win since January 2004 last season, and he put on a show once there.
He became the franchise’s youngest quarterback to win a playoff game, rallying the Titans from an 18-point deficit to beat Kansas City with the second-largest comeback by a road team in NFL postseason history. Mariota became the first quarterback in league history to complete a pass to himself in the postseason, catching a batted pass for a touchdown .
But Mariota ranked 30th with 3 Cheap Tanner Lee Jersey ,232 yards passing last season and tied for 26th with only 13 TD passes leaving plenty of room for improvement.
Capitalizing on Mariota’s skills prompted controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk to fire Mularkey after a divisional playoff loss in New England and hire Mike Vrabel as his replacement . Vrabel hired Matt LaFleur, who also interviewed for the same job, as his offensive coordinator to install a scheme to maximize what Mariota can do both throwing and running with the ball.
”Who else is there that we would rather have than Marcus as our leader?” wide receiver Taywan Taylor said. ”He’s the engine to this offense. He’s so poised and confident, we feed off him. He’s been our guy, so we’re looking forward to it.”
On Friday, the Titans signed two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan to a five-year extension to keep protecting Mariota. They also signed three-time Pro Bowl tight end Delanie Walker through 2020 to keep a favorite target around.
The biggest key for Mariota has been time not wasted this year on recovering from yet another injury. That has allowed him to work with his wide receivers throughout the offseason. He also hasn’t missed a snap as the starter during the offseason program or so far in training camp.
Mariota also has been practicing without a knee brace, perhaps the biggest sign of just how healthy he feels. Whether that continues in the regular season remains to be seen.
”Honestly, I’m not really even thinking about it …,” Mariota said. ”Looking back on it, it was a long journey, and I’ll never take any of that for granted, so when I’m out here, I have an opportunity to get better with these guys, I do enjoy it.”
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