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elaine95 Offline

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26.09.2019 08:12
healthy heading into the opener and did not rule anyone out for Cleveland. WR Antoni Antworten

INDIANAPOLIS �? Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri felt fine during last weekend’s game at Los Angeles. Long snapper Luke Rhodes thought everything went off without a hitch Noah Fant Jersey , too.Then the NFL’s career scoring leader inexplicably missed three kicks, and the 24-year veteran long dubbed the best clutch kicker in league history started fielding questions about what went wrong in the Colts’ overtime loss. On Thursday, the questions were back.“Unfortunately, if you play long enough you’re going to have a lousy game every once and a while,” Vinatieri said. “One day you’re off, and you come back and figure out how to kick ’em straighter.”Sounds like a simple solution to, perhaps, the worst game of his career.But those bad days have been rare for the NFL’s career scoring leader. Never before had Vinatieri missed two field goals and an extra point in the same game �? two to the left, one to the right �? and it marked only the fourth time in his career he missed a field goal inside 30 yards.Naturally, Vinatieri blamed himself.“I just didn’t kick well,” he said. “There were a few things that didn’t go our way but the majority of them were my lousy kicking, so I totally let them down.”It didn’t take long for others to start contemplating whether father time had finally caught up to Vinatieri, the league’s oldest player now at age 46.He sat out part of the preseason with tendinitis in his left knee. He finished last season by missing two extra points and a field goal in the Colts’ final three games after contending with a lingering groin injury. Then came the performance nobody saw coming on a bright, sunny southern California day.“He was the same old Adam,” Rhodes said. “We had great warmups and stuff , he was extremely confident. But he’s done it so long, I know he’ll jump right back.”If stats are any indication, Rhodes could be right.Vinatieri’s field-goal percentages have hovered in the 80s or 90s for seven straight years and he’s produced eight of his 12 best single seasons since 2010. He’s missed just 19 extra points in the NFL, nine coming since the league voted to move line of scrimmage for the attempt from the 2-yard line to the 15.Here, in this locker room, everybody roots for Vinatieri.“He’s a great guy, his mindset is the same as mine,” 24-year-old All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard said. “He loves the game, he loves being in this locker room, and you can tell. He doesn’t just go to meetings and things, he’s in here with us.”The players and coaches also understand Vinatieri didn’t win four Super Bowl rings, make two Super Bowl-winning kicks and two other memorable kicks in the snow at New England, or pass Hall of Famer Morten Anderson for the scoring and field goals titles without overcoming a little adversity.Vinatieri couldn’t bring down Desmond Howard or Devin Hester on their kickoff returns for touchdowns in the Super Bowl. Vinatieri finished the 2009 season on injured reserve after having surgery on his right knee. When the Patriots let him walk away in free agency following the 2005 season, he landed in Indianapolis’ domed-stadium where he’s now scored a franchise record 1,446 points and became the first player in league history to top 1 Drew Lock Jersey ,000 points with two teams.There was even that time, a month into his rookie season, when Vinatieri needed to make a 40-yard field goal in the wind and rain against Jacksonville to keep his job.He made it look as easy then, as coach Frank Reich expects this weekend at Tennessee (1-0), without Vinatieri’s personal stakes being so high.“I have watched him in pregame, I have seen him every day in practice. (I have) no concerns that there is any deteriorating of anything physically, and certainly not mentally,” Reich said Monday. “This guy is the toughest mental athlete I have ever been around.”All he has to do is prove that one more time for the Colts (0-1).“I think every single day, every person is playing for their job,” Vinatieri said. Mike Tomlin doesn’t know when Le’Veon Bell is going to show up for work.Maybe it’ll be in time for the Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro running back to be ready for Sunday’s season opener at Cleveland.Or maybe Bell will skip a week to send one last message about his frustration over not being able to sign a long-term deal during the offseason.Or maybe Bell will wait until early November to sign his one-year franchise tender , a move that would cost him millions in lost salary up front, a windfall Bell hopes to recoup when he hits free agency next spring.Tomlin insists he has too much going on getting ready to chase a third straight AFC North title to keep checking Bell’s locker for evidence of his arrival.“When he gets here, that’s when we’ll start quantifying Le’Veon Bell-related things,” Tomlin said Tuesday.Though Tomlin has been in contact with Bell during Bell’s lengthy sabbatical — the three-time Pro Bowler’s last appearance with the team was during a playoff loss to Jacksonville in January — Tomlin has no idea what to expect whenever Bell signs the contract that will make him both the highest-paid running back in the league and start the countdown to his departure in 2019.So Tomlin declined to get into specifics about how long it might take for Bell to get ready to play after not practicing for eight months. Could be a week, as it was last year. Could be longer.“Right now , (I’m) singularly focused on the guys focused that have been here,” Tomlin said.Second-year running back James Conner chief among them. The former Pitt star made significant strides during training camp. Following an uneven rookie season in which he dealt with various health concerns — including a knee injury in December that landed him on injured reserve — Conner’s rise over the spring and summer left his teammates confident and his head coach impressed.Asked if he’s more comfortable with the depth behind Bell than he was heading into the 2017 opener, Tomlin said yes. When asked why, Tomlin simply replied “James.”“The status and condition and the approach of James,” Tomlin said. “We had a rookie that missed a lot of time due to soft tissue injuries and lack of general readiness to a guy that’s done the things that we’ve outlined.”The Steelers drafted Conner in the third round in 2017, capping a remarkable 18 months in which he recovered from a cancer diagnosis in November 2015 to become the ACC’s all-time leading touchdown scorer at Pitt.Conner tweaked his hamstring on the first day of rookie minicamp shortly after being selected and only showed flashes of the player who ran for 3,733 yards and found the end zone 56 times for the Panthers.Conner ran 23 times for 144 yards while occasionally spelling Bell last season. Now he finds himself atop the depth chart until Bell arrives.Conner looked the part of a starter during the preseason, running for a team-high 100 yards, including a bruising 26-yard touchdown run against Green Bay’s starting defense. Conner has also drawn raves for his improvement as a receiver out of the backfield — a weakness last summer — and his work in pass protection.“If we start off with James, I think we’ll be fine either way,” guard Ramon Foster said. “He’s a guy that’s made strides. He’s made us confident in him. So he gets the start, we roll with him. No disrespect to (Bell), we’ve got to move. This is a moving train.”NOTES: Tomlin said he believes the team is relatively healthy heading into the opener and did not rule anyone out for Cleveland. WR Antonio Brown (groin) did not play at all during the preseason. TE Vance McDonald (foot) has been out since the first week of training camp while CB Mike Hilton and rookie WR James Washington (oblique) were slowed in late August. … Tomlin said he’s fine with the depth at outside linebacker, but did not rule out whether the team would look to add at the position.21<button class="view-gallery">View Gallery</button> Gallery:Dallas Cowboys: Celebrities who root for the Cowboys from LeBron James to Stone Cold Steve AustinUSA TODAY Sports

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