AFC South: Pat McAfee

Examining the Indianapolis Colts' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)
This is the safest position on the roster for the Colts. They plan to always keep a veteran backup if Luck ever goes down with an injury.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

The Colts will have a solid running combination if -- and we’re saying if until proven wrong -- Richardson can bounce back from a poor first season in Indianapolis and Bradshaw and Ballard can stay injury-free. Havili, a fullback, gets the edge over Mario Harvey, who switched from linebacker to fullback during offseason workouts.

RECEIVERS (5)

The final receiver spot will come down to Rogers and Griff Whalen. If the Colts want to play it safe, Whalen is the guy because he’s familiar with Luck and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, but Rogers has the size and speed the team likes. There’s also the possibility of the Colts keeping six receivers.

TIGHT ENDS (4)

Allen, who missed all but one game in 2013, and Fleener have the potential to be one of the top tight end duos in the league. Doyle and Saunders are both familiar with the system after backing up Fleener in Allen’s absence last season.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

There are plenty of questions surrounding the offensive line outside of tackles Castonzo and Cherilus. The one thing general manager Ryan Grigson wanted with this group is depth. The Colts have plenty of it.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (6)

Like the offensive line, the Colts want depth on the defensive line so they can constantly rotate in players, so come the fourth quarter they still have fresh legs to get after the opponent. Jones was the key offseason acquisition for the Colts. Chapman showed flashes last season; now he needs to do it every snap that he’s on the field.

LINEBACKERS (10)

All eyes will be on outside linebacker as the Colts look to find a replacement for Mathis, who is suspended for the first four games of the season. Werner gets the first crack at starting in Mathis’ spot. McNary is a player for whom Grigson has high expectations. It’ll be up to defensive coordinator Greg Manusky on how he uses McNary.

DEFENSIVE BACKS (10)

It’s anybody’s guess how the secondary will perform. It’s anybody’s guess who will start alongside Landry at safety. It looked like it would be Howell for most of the offseason, but the Colts signed the veteran Adams in June. Can Toler finally remain healthy? Can Davis live up to his contract? So many questions with no answers at the moment.

SPECIALIST

This only changes if an injury occurs.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee is a colorful character, someone great to follow on Twitter and listen to because you're probably going to hear something interesting.

He didn't disappoint during an interview with the Indianapolis Star's Mike Chappell. Not only did McAfee say he wants to handle kickoff and field goal duties whenever Adam Vinatieri retires, he also said he'd like to try hitting a 75-yard field goal during the Colts' season opener against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

"I think we could legitimately go from 75 yards. Not even a question about it," McAfee said. "I think in warmups I'd be able to hit from 80, like full strain. Probably try it a couple of times.

"... I've already been politicking for the shot. If I kick a 75-yarder at Denver I might retire right afterwards. You might see me untie my shoes on the field and just walk off: 'See ya.' You know, go out on top."

McAfee certainly has the leg. He kicked a 75-yard field goal during a workout in the summer of 2011.

For the record, the NFL record is 64 yards, set by Denver's Matt Prater last season.

Here are additional pieces of Colts-related content from around the web in our Reading the Coverage feature:
INDIANAPOLIS -- Ryan Grigson didn't have time to spare five minutes on the phone to do an interview. He was too busy talking and wearing his thumbs out texting agents as he prepared for the start of free agency.

The questions, just three of them I might add, were sent via email to the Indianapolis Colts general manager.

"In the middle of free agency, I felt like I had a homework assignment due," Grigson jokingly wrote after answering the questions.

[+] EnlargeRyan Grigson
AP Photo/Johnny VyRyan Grigson and the Colts have set the expectations high, and nothing short of the Super Bowl will suffice for the general manager.
If you know Grigson, you know he's always working, never settling for what happened in the past. He's that nonstop workaholic who is always believing another move should be made to improve the team.

That mindset was a necessity for Grigson when he took over for the fired Bill Polian in 2012. The Colts were coming off a 2-14 season after which they not only dismissed Polian, but also said their final goodbyes to quarterback Peyton Manning after 14 years, 11 playoff games and two Super Bowl appearances.

So the rebuilding process couldn't take long for Grigson, the first-time general manager. Not with holdovers like Reggie Wayne, Robert Mathis and Antoine Bethea used to winning.

Grigson is headed into Year 3 of not rebuilding the Colts, but building off the success the franchise has had in the past two years.

They're 22-10 and made the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, while dealing with the loss of coach Chuck Pagano for 12 games while battling leukemia in 2012 and the loss of five offensive starters last season.

"The element of surprise kind of goes away when you have such high expectations," Grigson said. "This is a winning organization and the bar is set high. I think that kind of environment is a healthy one for everyone involved. I'd hate to be somewhere that your expectation was anything less than being Super Bowl champs every year."

Grigson and Pagano walked into the perfect situation.

Andrew Luck, the best quarterback taken No. 1 overall since, well, Manning in 1998, led an impressive Colts 2012 draft class that also included receiver T.Y. Hilton and tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen.

Grigson's obsessive, always-needing-to-be-working mindset is in high gear because the Colts are in position to take another step in the AFC next season. Manning and New England's Tom Brady are a year older and moving another step toward the Hall of the Fame.

Now it's up to Grigson to add the proper pieces around Luck. This is the perfect time for the general manager to redeem himself after his 2013 offseason moves didn't live up to expectations.

"No matter the circumstances, the last two years we expected to be in the Super Bowl and believed in that goal until the last tick came off the clock," Grigson said. "Year 3 will be no different; we just have to find a way to see it all the way through."

Indianapolis went into free agency on Tuesday with the fifth-most salary cap space.

Just like in Green Bay, players want to play in Indianapolis despite the small-market mentality some have about the city.

Linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, who the Colts signed to a four-year deal on March 6, was attracted to the franchise's history of success. That's understandable after he spent his first eight years in Cleveland, where that organization appears to be just spinning in circles.

Pagano is more than a coach to the players. He's the person who will ask a player about his off-the-field life nearly as much as he talks about offensive and defensive schemes.

"Having a sitdown dinner with him, I knew right away he was a good guy," Jackson said. "We barely talked football. Any time you can do that, you know you're dealing with a good guy. He's been through a lot in his life, obviously. The guy is high on life and I want to be around people like that."

Luck's arm, legs, smarts and mental toughness are the main reasons why the transition from the Manning era hasn't been too turbulent. It's also why Indianapolis is an organization that will remain a destination for free agents as long as the kid from Stanford is taking the snaps from center.

Former New York Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks has already publicly talked about wanting to catch passes from Luck.

"First of all, winning makes you an attractive team," punter Pat McAfee said. "But I think the chance to hitch your wagon to an up-and-coming, hopefully Hall of Fame quarterback, which [Luck] should be, I think that's a big deal for a lot of the older guys that are looking for a ring, or maybe for the younger guys that are trying to jump-start their career. I think Indianapolis is becoming a very, very promising-looking destination for a lot people who want to win and hitch their wagon to a player who's going to be great for a very long time."


INDIANAPOLIS -- Re-signing kicker Adam Vinatieri to a two-year deal was not only the right thing, but the only thing to do for the Indianapolis Colts.

Vinatieri isn’t showing any signs of slowing down with his young 41-year-old kicking leg. He’s coming off one of the best seasons in his 18-year career, making 35 of 40 field goal attempts and going a perfect 34-of-34 on extra points.

"I'm pumped that Adam and the Colts were able to come to an agreement,” punter Pat McAfee said. “It's been an absolute honor working with a future Hall of Famer for the past five years, and two more years of that will be wonderful. Adam is a stud, with a lot left in the tank. I'm excited to help him reach a couple more folks on that all-time scoring list, and most importantly, win a lot more games together for the best franchise in the NFL, the Indianapolis Colts.”

Vinatieri’s professionalism and leadership is huge inside the Colts' locker room, as they continue to climb up the ladder in the AFC.

Re-signing Vinatieri also allows McAfee, who agreed to a five-year deal last week, to learn from one of the best and a possible Hall of Famer. McAfee, who handles kickoff duties, said he would eventually like to kick field goals, too.

“However long he wants to play, I just wanted to know whenever that guy is done, whenever that Hall of Fame career is over, that I just want a fair shake in kicking as well,” McAfee said last week.

Free-agency primer: Colts

March, 7, 2014
Mar 7
11:00
AM ET
» AFC Free-Agency Primer: East | West | North | South » NFC: East | West | North | South

Key free agents: CB Vontae Davis, S Antoine Bethea, K Adam Vinatieri, RB Donald Brown

Where they stand: The Colts have the fourth-most salary-cap space ($41 million) in the league. They solved one of their issues when they signed inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson on Thursday to start alongside Jerrell Freeman, Erik Walden and Robert Mathis. Davis is the most important player to re-sign with having to acquire a new starting center next in line after Samson Satele was released on March 6. The Colts re-signed punter Pat McAfee to a five-year deal Friday. The 41-year-old Vinatieri believes he can kick for several more seasons. Expect the Colts to look to add depth at receiver to give quarterback Andrew Luck another target to go with receivers T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne and tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen.

What to expect: The Colts should be able to work out a deal with Davis, who was inconsistent last season but has the talent to be one of the top cornerbacks in the league. Don't expect the Colts to go with a rookie or second-year player as their starting center. The position is too valuable for them to go that direction with their franchise player, Luck, taking the snaps. New Orleans' Brian De La Puente and Green Bay's Evan Dietrich-Smith are both free agents. Denver receiver Eric Decker is an ideal receiver to go with Hilton and Wayne. The Colts and Decker have mutual interest, but he may be out of their price range if he wants to be paid like a No. 1 receiver. Hakeem Nicks and James Jones are also free agents the Colts could pursue. Acquiring a veteran guard is a better option than drafting one, because Indianapolis has the talent to take another step in the AFC next season. Decker's teammate in Denver, guard Zane Beadles, is a free agent.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Former Indianapolis Colts general manager and current ESPN analyst Bill Polian has grades for each player scheduled to hit the free agent market on March 11.

Here’s are the grades Polian gave for each of the Colts’ key free agents:

Antoine Bethea: A

Donald Brown: B+

Pat McAfee: B

Vontae Davis: B-

Adam Vinatieri: C

Here's a breakdown of what each letter grade is worth financially.

A: $6+ million AAV (annual average value), 3+ years guaranteed money

B: $2-6 million AAV, 2 years or fewer guaranteed money

C: $2 million or less AAV, 2 years or fewer guaranteed money

D: Minimum salary, 1 year contract

I was a little surprised Polian had Bethea graded higher than Davis, and I was surprised Davis was also graded lower than McAfee and Brown.

One other noted free agent is offensive lineman Mike McGlynn. Polian gave McGlynn a D. He lost his starting job at guard momentarily but was still a better center than Samson Satele. This should help you put into perspective how low McGlynn graded out, receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was given a C. Yes, Heyward-Bey, who went from starting the season as the Colts’ No. 2 receiver to ending the season on special teams, graded out higher than McGlynn.

Click here for an explanation of the grading system.
INDIANAPOLIS -- The question around this time of year when the NFL scouting combine is going on is: Who are the Indianapolis Colts looking at drafting?

That question is often challenging for the team with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.

Will the Houston Texans go with one of the quarterbacks or South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney?

The Colts don't have a first-round pick, so trying to predict who they'll select at No. 59 is almost impossible.

Indianapolis has needs on the offensive line, receiver and linebacker. What the Colts do in free agency will also impact which direction they go in the draft. They could end up needing help at cornerback, safety and punter depending on what happens with Vontae Davis, Antoine Bethea and fan-favorite Pat McAfee, who are all free agents.

"We're optimistic about the process and our game plan, but it is the NFL," Colts general manager Grigson said. "You want to lock everybody up and have everybody here, but it’s still the NFL and you can’t have everything. We're going to try like heck to get that process worked through and see it through how we like."

As far as free agency goes, Grigson will likely take a methodical approach with things and allow the market to get set before doing anything so that he avoids overpaying to re-sign one of his own players.

ESPN’s John Clayton reported over the weekend that the salary cap will be $132 million, which means the Colts will have about $39 million in cap space.

“Just like the draft, free agency kind of mirrors the draft, in sense going to have weaker position groups and stronger position groups every year at different spots,” Grigson said. “So what we do, we have our pro scouts and guys just digging and I get a list during the season, I start knocking those guys out. Because you have to chip away every day, because you can’t do everybody the day before March 11, and then have your draft in place as well. It’s a process and something you have to chip away every day just to have that overall picture in your mind to see if it meshes with what you, your head coach and all your staff kind of sees as our vision moving forward. So we’re just diligent making sure we unearth everybody.”

INDIANAPOLIS -- Pat McAfee used to be one of those close-minded people. He had his own opinions and was very judgmental about gay people.

Then the Indianapolis Colts punter met several gay people and his thoughts completely changed.

“(I) just realized how stupid I was being,” McAfee said in a text to ESPN.com on Sunday night. “They are just like me. Just happen to be attracted to people of the same sex. Love is love to me. As long as folks are happy, I'm happy. There are a lot of bigger issues in the world, and happiness and love are things we shouldn't be restricting.”

That's why it's not surprising that McAfee, a strong believer in gay rights, went to Twitter to support Michael Sam, the All-American defensive lineman from Missouri, who said he is gay in an interview on ESPN's “Outside the Lines” on Sunday.

Top Colts' offseason questions

February, 5, 2014
Feb 5
6:30
PM ET
INDIANPOLIS -- There was an ESPN Insider piece Tuesday looking at the top 50 offseason questions around the NFL. The one question asked about the Indianapolis Colts was: How will the Colts try to address the disappointing Trent Richardson?

Here are my top four pressing offseason issues for the Colts?
  1. Re-sign their own free agents: Cornerback Vontae Davis, punter Pat McAfee and safety Antoine Bethea should be at the top of the list of players to be re-signed. They're all key players in different ways for the Colts. Davis is the team's best cornerback. McAfee does more than punt. He also kicks off and has a tendency to lay out opposing returners. Bethea is the backbone of the secondary. The Colts, obviously shouldn't overpay for any of them.
  2. Returning from the ACL: The Colts lost two key starters, including one future Hall of Famer, with torn ACL's. Receiver Reggie Wayne and running back Vick Ballard both had their season end by Week 7. Both will spend the majority of their time at the Colts facility rehabilitating their knee injuries. Wayne is trying to prove he can return and still play at a high level at age 35 and the Colts need Ballard to team with Richardson in the backfield.
  3. Improving without a first-round pick: Colts general manager Ryan Grigson still has three months to figure out a way to acquire a pick in the first round. The Colts could use a pick in the first round because they have a number of areas that need to be addressed in the offseason.
  4. Fix the interior: Grigson can have the same three players starting at guard and center next season. Guards Mike McGlynn and Hugh Thornton and center Samson Satele weren't a good group. Donald Thomas should be back to start at one of the guard positions after missing of last season with a torn tendon in his quad. McGlynn is a free agent and likely won't be back.
I’m sure you all have read, watched or heard about Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman's key play and postgame comments after they beat the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game to advance to the Super Bowl. You don’t have the Internet, a TV or radio if this is the first you’ve heard about Sherman’s antics.

He’s made Peyton Manning’s third Super Bowl appearance a footnote so far.

Several Indianapolis Colts took to Twitter to give their opinion on Sherman’s key play and postgame interview.

 

NFLN survey/franchise player: Colts

January, 16, 2014
Jan 16
10:00
AM ET
Quarterback Andrew Luck's NFL career consists of a total of 35 games when you add in the three playoff games he’s appeared in. It’s only taken those 35 games for Luck to earn the respect of his peers around the league.

Luck finished second behind only Peyton Manning, the player he replaced at quarterback with the Indianapolis Colts, during NFL Nation’s survey question of: If you could start a team with one player, whom would it be?

Luck received more votes than Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, New England’s Tom Brady, Detroit’s Calvin Johnson and Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson.

And Manning, who has led the Denver Broncos to this weekend’s AFC Championship Game, barely beat Luck. Manning had 62 votes compared to Luck’s 56 votes.

I’m not surprised that so many players selected Luck. He simply knows how to win, he goes about his business the right way and he’ll be leading the Colts for at least the next decade. Punter Pat McAfee once told me that other cities have more to offer when it comes to nightlife or beaches, but if a free agent wants to win he’ll come to Indianapolis because of Luck.

McAfee is right.

Luck is 22-10 in the regular season, he’s already won an AFC South title and he won his first playoff game this season. Manning didn’t win a playoff game this early in his career.

Oh yeah, Luck’s only 24 years old.

There aren’t many other teams around the NFL who can say the same thing.

Indianapolis Colts season wrap-up

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
2:00
PM ET
 
Arrow indicates direction team is trending.

Final Power Ranking: 8
Preseason Power Ranking: 10

Biggest surprise: The questions were valid. Was linebacker Robert Mathis' production a product of having sack-machine Dwight Freeney playing on the other side? Could Mathis still be an impact player without Freeney? Mathis silenced the naysayers when he led the league in sacks with 19.5, including seven strip sacks. Mathis didn't hide the fact that he wanted to quiet the doubters. What made his season even more special is that he did it without much help elsewhere, as the Colts had only 42 sacks as a team. Mathis is one of the front-runners to be the league's defensive player of the year.

Biggest disappointment: Safety LaRon Landry was supposed to have the same kind of impact Bob Sanders had when he played for the Colts. That's why general manager Ryan Grigson signed him to four-year, $24 million contract. Landry was good when he was able to come up with the big hits or touchdown-saving tackles, but it was too often that he ended up whiffing on a play. The plays on which he missed running back Jamaal Charles on a touchdown run in the regular-season game against Kansas City and New England's LeGarrette Blount on his touchdown run last weekend are two examples that quickly come to mind. It also doesn't help that Landry missed four games because of injury this season.

Biggest need: Help on both lines -- offensive and defensive -- should be at the top of Grigson's list during the offseason. The Colts are set at offensive tackle with Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus. Donald Thomas will be back to take one of the guard spots after he missed most of the season with a quad injury, but the other guard spot and center could use upgrades. The Colts need a defensive tackle who can clog the middle of the line.

Team MVP: This is a no-brainer. Quarterback Andrew Luck was mentioned as a league MVP candidate at one point in the season. The second-year quarterback overcame injuries to five key offensive starters -- including future Hall of Fame receiver Reggie Wayne -- to cut his interceptions in half, increase his completion percentage and throw the same number of touchdown passes despite 52 fewer attempts. Take Luck out of the lineup and the Colts would have won maybe six games this season.

 
INDIANAPOLIS -- The last thing Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee wanted was to draw some unnecessary attention to the team during the playoffs.

McAfee
But that’s what happened when a picture that was meant to praise kicker Adam Vinatieri was centered around the person in the background after their wild-card victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Jan. 4.

McAfee tweeted a picture of Vinatieri, who had a towel around his waist and a sweater with a collared shirt on.

What McAfee didn’t notice when he first tweeted the picture was that quarterback Andrew Luck was naked in the background.

Fortunately for McAfee, though, a Colts employee had his phone in a perfect position – blocking Luck’s butt – to avoid having the Twitter world get a view of the franchise player’s rear end.

McAfee deleted the tweet right away, but the damage had already been done.

Websites like Deadspin and Huffington Post grabbed the picture and wrote stories about it.

McAfee said he immediately called Luck’s phone like 400 times to try to catch the quarterback before he heard about it from somebody else. Luck still hadn’t turned his phone on after the game. McAfee said he was fined between one dollar and $3 million by the team.

“I still feel bad about it today,” McAfee said. “Luckily Andrew is the best and he wasn’t upset about it.”
Chuck PaganoAndy Lyons/Getty Images"Chuck [Pagano] is someone who is genuine and he's someone that can get his players to buy into his message," GM Ryan Grigson said.
INDIANAPOLIS -- An argument could be made that Chuck Pagano's head coaching record in 2012 should have an asterisk next to it. The Indianapolis Colts went 11-5 during his first year. Pagano, though, only coached four of those games (2-2) because of an unfortunate battle with leukemia.

So a deserving question heading into this season was: Could Pagano really coach?

The Colts had everything it took to make a run in the AFC this season. Playmakers on offense to go with franchise quarterback Andrew Luck. A defense that was supposed to be better in Year 2 of Pagano's 3-4 defense.

But one by one, key offensive players went down.

Running backs Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw. Guard Donald Thomas. Tight end Dwayne Allen. Then the big hit happened, the kind of devastating blow that had Pagano choked up during the press conference. Future Hall of Fame receiver Reggie Wayne was lost for the season with a torn ACL.

[+] EnlargeIndianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne
AP Photo/Michael ConroyLosing Reggie Wayne for the season to a torn ACL tested the Colts' mettle.
That in itself gave the Colts every reason to start to crumble.

Not only was Pagano's coaching put to the test, but also his ability to keep his team tied together during that time because sympathy cards weren't going to start coming in the mail from their opponents.

The journey wasn't smooth. It was actually bumpy at times, as some of Pagano's coaching decisions came into question. But when it was all said and done, the “family,” as they call themselves, stuck together, had another 11-win season and are headed back to the playoffs for the second straight sesaon.

“We're talking about a guy who fought every day during his battle with cancer,” Robert Mathis said. “If he did that, we could definitely go every single day and compete. If he told me to run through a brick wall, I'd do it for him. That's the type of coach he is.”

Pagano's name isn't near the top of the list when it comes to coach of the year candidates, but the job he did this season can't be discounted after they used a league-high 73 players during the regular season.

Here they stand, AFC South champs and days away from hosting the Kansas City Chiefs in a wild-card playoff game at Lucas Oil Stadium while 20 other teams are on vacation.

“You don't want to let Chuck down,” defensive end Cory Redding. “That's the biggest thing that will hurt anybody in this locker room if you let Chuck down. Chuck believes in you, so you want to give him everything you've got.”

The big picture has never changed for Pagano.

It started at training camp in Anderson, Ind., when he told his team that they had one shot because nothing is guaranteed, so they needed to “pour everything we have into this season.” It remained the same as players were lost to injury and continued when the defense couldn't stop giving up big plays and you wondered why they continued to try to run the ball this season.

It boiled down to trust, loyalty and respect with Pagano. Those are the three things he constantly preached to his players through the good and bad times.

“Really from the beginning we wanted a leader of men and someone that had those qualities and weren't fake about it,” Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said. “That's the one thing that people don't realize, football players get shortchanged. They're a lot smarter than people think and they know when someone is full of baloney. Chuck is someone who is genuine and he's someone that can get his players to buy into his message.”

There's no clear definition of what a player's coach is. But do an Internet search of it and there's a good chance Pagano's picture will pop up, punter Pat McAfee said. He treats every player the same, no matter if it's Andrew Luck or the last player on the practice squad.

Redding's phone went off earlier this season. He looked down at it and noticed it was a text message from Pagano.

“It basically said get your beep out your head and start playing like you know how to,” Redding recalled the message saying.

Upset or embarrassed?

Not one bit.

Redding embraced how Pagano handled the situation. The coach didn't call him out in a team meeting or berate him on the sideline in front of everybody at practice. That's not how Pagano learned to do things from his father, a former high school football coach in Colorado.

“Trust me, he does have a temper,” Redding said. “He'll dog cuss you out in a heartbeat, but it takes a lot for him to get there. He does it in a way that's coachable, in a way that's a constructive criticism type deal. He will get on you like that, but never in a way that will degrade you as a person or a man or insult your manhood. You respect a man who respects you.”

Pagano's first playoff game as a head coach didn't go well, as they lost to the Baltimore Ravens in the wild-card game last season. They used that as a learning experience.

“I think players, coaches, everybody has got a year under their belt,” Pagano said. “So you know a little bit more what to expect. Again, it's playoffs. It's one and done. We know that. We know it's a tournament type of atmosphere, all those things. We're just going to prepare like we always prepare and try to go play better than we did last week.”
INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee considers Cincinnati punter Kevin Huber a friend. So it’s understandable that he cringed a little more than usual when he saw Huber get laid out by a nasty hit from Pittsburgh's Terence Garvin last weekend.

The Bengals placed Huber on injured reserve with a broken jaw and a cracked vertebrae. Garvin was not penalized for the hit, but on Wednesday the NFL reportedly fined him $25,000.

The league is trying to protect punters and kickers because they consider them defenseless.

“Any time you get on the field there’s a possible chance of that happening,” McAfee said. “I think you’re trying to make a play and there is an inherent risk where you could get blindsided. It’s unfortunate it happened to Huber.”

McAfee noted that Huber ventured into the war zone, an area of 10 or 15 yards that most punters and kickers try to avoid.

“You either have to get in or get out,” McAfee said. “I stay behind that area. He was right in the middle of it. I feel bad for him because he’s a good friend of mine. I think if you ask him the same question he would give you the same answer. He knows it’s something that could happen, but knows he has to look out next time.”

Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri kicked off during his first Super Bowl as a rookie with the New England Patriots in 1996 then took off racing downfield field a “million miles an hour” when a Green Bay Packer came out of nowhere and laid him out.

“Next thing I know I do this straight out of Superman thing,” Vinatieri said. “I learned my lesson pretty quickly after that to pay attention. They always tell you that if the guy you think is blocking you goes away, it doesn’t mean somebody screwed up, but somebody else is coming to get you. That’s why you always keep your head on a swivel when running down field.”

SPONSORED HEADLINES

AFC SOUTH SCOREBOARD