Murphy Not Ready to Concede to Colquitt

With all the talk of the defense this off-season, the special teams units have taken a third seat to the Dustin Colquitt and Nick Murphy punter duel that will play out in River Falls. These names aren't getting a lot of mention in the Chiefs Nation, but as training camp looms, their battle for the punter position will be one of the hot topics come July 28.

The Chiefs have had a heck of a time finding a consistent punter in recent years. Last year alone, the Chiefs went through three punters during the course of the season. Now they will have two talented punters fighting it out for a roster spot.

The two punters took very different paths to the Chiefs. Nick Murphy, who entered the league as a rookie free agent in 2002, has been to the Minnesota Vikings twice and the Philadelphia Eagles camp once and was cut three times. He was also picked up by Baltimore in 2004, as a late season addition and cut a month later, leading to the Chiefs signing Murphy to a three year deal. Between training camps, Murphy has played in the NFLEL in two previous seasons.

When Murphy came to Kansas City last season; the Chiefs were desperate for punting help. By the time Murphy came in, the Chiefs had cut a punter, re-signed that punter when his replacement got hurt, and cut the replacement. The punting game was in absolute disarray. Murphy came in and punted fairly well, shoring up the Chiefs' punting. It appeared that Kansas City coaches had found their punter.

Then, along comes Dustin Colquitt, this year's third round draft pick out of Tennessee. The son of Craig Colquitt, a former NFL punter, Colquitt has been bred to be an NFL punter. He takes a cerebral approach his craft and has developed a highly unorthodox style of punting.

Being a left footed punter, Colquitt punts are difficult to catch. The ball spins in the opposite direction of most NFL punts. He has developed the ability to make the football act irregularly in flight, increasing the difficulty of fielding his exponentially. In recent practices Colquitt has regularly frustrated return men including Eddie Kennison, an accomplished receiver, the finest return man in the game, Dante Hall.

Murphy is no slouch, either. He has a quick release, an important attribute for a punter, and he has been absolutely booming the football, giving the coverage team an ample amount of time to get to the return man. More important, Murphy has been consistent, which is invaluable to Coach Vermeil.

Special teams coach Frank Gansz Jr. will have a pleasant dilemma later this summer. One would think that although Murphy is the more experienced punter, Colquitt has the inside track, since the Chiefs actually used a draft pick to acquire him. However, it is conceivable that with a strong performance by Murphy and if Colquitt doesn't develop as fast, the Chiefs could take Murphy into the season.

This will be a battle to watch. On one hand you have the experienced, grizzled player who's had to fight for every opportunity and has seen nothing but eventual rejection at every stop. On the other hand, you have the young punter, with an impressive college resume and an NFL pedigree. Either way, the Chiefs punting woes are now a thing of the past.

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