INDIANAPOLIS — It was Adam Vinatieri’s turn to meet the media Thursday, a day after Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich again expressed support for the embattled kicker.
Vinatieri has missed 11 attempts this season, including six extra points. The misses have factored into losses against the Los Angeles Chargers, Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins and generally increased the degree of difficulty for a team that has played nine consecutive one-score games to open the season.
Indianapolis brought in four kickers for a tryout Tuesday — the second time this season the team has taken that step — but the decision ultimately was made to continue on with Vinatieri.
“We are just all in this together,” Vinatieri said. “We are all trying to win games together. I appreciate the ability to keep going.”
The 46-year-old future Hall of Famer has become the object of controversy.
His continued presence on the roster is seen by some as a double standard for a team that preaches accountability and constant evaluation.
It’s a charge Reich does not deny, noting the 24-year veteran has earned a longer leash. And he’s seen no signs of disruption in the locker room as a result of Vinatieri’s struggles.
“The temperature of the locker room is always important on everything,” Reich said during his weekly media session Wednesday. “I mean, personnel decisions really come down to (general manager) Chris (Ballard) and I making those, but I have every reason to believe that the temperature in the locker room is Adam is our guy. Everybody has the utmost confidence in Adam, and (I have) zero indication of anything but that.”
Vinatieri hasn’t been overwhelmed by the criticism, saying if players hang around the league long enough they’re bound to become the object of scorn.
And he again shot down the idea of major alterations to the kicking operation.
Vinatieri suffered an injury to his left knee during training camp but has downplayed suggestions of any lingering effects.
He takes a similarly measured approach when the subject of potential mechanical or operational improvements is broached.
“Just keep working,” Vinatieri said. “You check out film, you see what you are doing right or wrong and — it’s just the little things. At this point, you’re not recreating anything. You’re just trying to tweak little things here and there.”
Veteran wide receiver Devin Funchess again wore a red non-contact jersey during Thursday’s practice, and it’s very likely he will not be activated from injured reserve for Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Funchess suffered a broken clavicle after going to the ground trying to make a catch in the end zone during the season opener against the Chargers.
Unlike other injuries where physical rehab can be altered to speed up the process, a broken bone is completely in the hands of biology.
“I’ve been trying since I got hurt, and it’s not a good process,” Funchess said. “You can’t control a bone. It is healing when it wants to heal. Just seeing (the other receivers), I just try to coach them up and try to let them know little small things out there – what the DBs are going to do and all that stuff. All I can do is give them my knowledge.”
Three new players appeared on the did not practice list Thursday – undrafted rookie wide receiver Ashton Dulin (neck), safety Malik Hooker (knee) and defensive end Jabaal Sheard (rest). The latter two are not major concerns, with Hooker regularly getting one day off each week to manage torn meniscus.
Tight end Mo Alie-Cox (hip), wide receiver Parris Campbell (hand), cornerback Pierre Desir (hamstring), wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (calf) and running back Jordan Wilkins (ankle) did not participate for a second consecutive day.
Tight end Jack Doyle (shoulder) improved to limited practice, and linebacker Darius Leonard (abdomen) returned to full practice.
Quarterback Jacoby Brissett (knee) remained a full participant and is on track to start Sunday.