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.”