Does New Kicker Have a Future in Indy?

The Indianapolis Colts claimed a little-known kicker off waivers earlier this summer. Is he the future at the position for the team or merely an extra leg for training camp and the preseason?

Indianapolis claimed rookie free agent kicker Garrett Lindholm off waivers on June 17.  Lindholm was a two-year starter at Division II Tarleton State, where he appeared in 23 games, converting 82 of 85 extra point attempts and 26 of 36 field goal attempts.  He was signed as undrafted free agent by the Atlanta Falcons following this year's draft, but found himself as the odd-man out in Atlanta and was subsequently waived by the Falcons and claimed by the Colts.  Indianapolis waived linebacker Brandon Renkart in order to make room for Lindholm on the roster.

Lindholm's accuracy improved considerably between 2008 and 2009, as he connected on 15 of 18 field goals (83.3 percent) last season versus his 11 for 18 average (61.1 percent) in 2008.  His two year average still only amounts to 72.2 percent, which will not cut it in the NFL, especially considering the competition he faces on the Colts roster, but he is improving.

What's troubling is that he actually missed two extra point attempts — out of three for his college career — in his final season with Tarleton State in 2009.  This would show that while he is making strides, his fundamentals are lacking.  At the highest level, a player needs to make the easy plays look routine and the difficult plays look easy, so missing one of the trademark "gimmies" in football twice in 45 attempts last season is not a positive leading indicator of his potential.

But, that is basically the book on Lindholm: He has a powerful leg, but is not a fundamentally sound player.  It's possible that he was signed to push incumbents Adam Vinatieri and Brett Swenson as well as competing with punter Pat McAfee for kickoff duties.  The issue there is that Swenson was signed to push Vinatieri and it looks as though the veteran kicker will once again stave off a rookie challenger and start for Indianapolis in 2010.  However, Swenson was cut earlier this week, so Lindholm has already beaten out one of the men at his position. The fact that the other is a future Hall of Fame kicker is still daunting, however.

If Lindholm was brought on board to only handle kickoff duties, that actually makes more sense than signing him as a potential successor to Vinatieri.  If Vinatieri is able to keep his spot, that leaves McAfee to punt, but Lindholm could still kick off,  with the Colts keeping three kickers on the roster.

However, roster spots will be at a premium heading into training camp and the regular season, so it seems unlikely that Indianapolis would keep two kickers and a punter on the 53-man squad.  But, they did have two kickers and a punter on the team for the tail end of the 2009 season and the playoffs.

Vinatieri was hurt and Matt Stover handled extra points and field goals while McAfee took care of punting and kicking off, but they were able to field a competitive team that won the AFC last season with three kickers on the regular payroll.  Given the fact that the Colts have a potent offense that will require them to kick to the opposing team quite frequently in 2010, it makes sense to have a kicker that specializes in pinning the other team deep on every kickoff.

That means that Lindholm needs to showcase his big leg in training camp and the preseason if he hopes to make the roster.  Even if he does, though, another player could emerge as a more important asset and force Indianapolis to retain him and sacrifice the few yards of field position per possession they would give up by cutting Lindholm.  He faces a long road to be sure, but he also has more of an opportunity to contribute to the team than would be expected at first glance.

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