INDIANAPOLIS – Somehow it’s come to this.
Future Hall of Famer Adam Vinatieri stood at his locker Thursday inside the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center and was peppered with questions from the local media.
One of them was pointed at the Indianapolis Colts kicker’s immediate future.
Does he feel as though he’s kicking for his job Sunday against the Tennessee Titans?
“You guys are trying to make this into something,” Vinatieri said in an even voice. “Write whatever you want. I think every single day, every single person is playing for their job.”
The 46-year-old was direct and defiant throughout the group interview. Anger was bubbling not far below the surface, but Vinatieri kept the tone professional.
The questions were awkward at times but also warranted.
In his last four games dating back to last season, Vinatieri has missed six kicks. Five of them have come from 46 yards or closer, and three have been extra-point attempts.
There are extenuating circumstances. He began battling through a groin injury prior to a Week 5 game at New England last year, and it affected him to some degree throughout the remainder of the season.
But if he wasn’t the NFL’s all-time leading scorer, there’s a fair chance kicker tryouts would have been held this week in Indianapolis.
Colts head coach Frank Reich has been steadfast in his support for Vinatieri, and the veteran altered his routine this week.
He’s kicking an extra day than normal, and he spotted a mechanical flaw for which he’s made an adjustment.
“Obviously, you go back and you re-evaluate stuff,” Vinatieri said. “But we’re not reinventing the wheel.”
Vinatieri missed two field goals and an extra point last week against the Los Angeles Chargers, accounting for seven lost points in a game the Colts dropped 30-24 in overtime.
Despite the gaffes, he maintains the full support of the locker room.
Vinatieri is a team captain, and general manager Chris Ballard repeatedly has praised the kicker’s rare leadership ability in the past.
Reich said earlier this week he has no concerns about Vinatieri’s performance moving forward, and he still considers the veteran to be an elite player.
Vinatieri didn’t shrug off the poor outing, taking blame for the loss in the postgame locker room.
But the misses also didn’t shake his confidence.
“Unfortunately, if you play long enough, you’re going to have a lousy game every once in awhile,” Vinatieri said. “That one was not a great game, so I’m working my butt off this week to try to get back on track.”
There’s been speculation the Colts’ unexpectedly poor tackling performance in L.A. could be attributed to a lack of preseason snaps for several starters.
By one unofficial count at least, Indianapolis missed as many as 16 tackles while surrendering more than 400 yards of total offense.
Veteran defensive end Justin Houston disagreed with the notion a lack of preparation was a factor in the results.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “They made plays. You have to take your hat off to those guys. They made plays. They watched film, and they studied just like we do. They capitalized on their opportunity. We just have to do better this week.”
Running back Jonathan Williams (rib) returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday for the first time since being injured Aug. 17 against the Cleveland Browns.
Wide receiver Deon Cain and cornerback Ryan Lewis also were limited participants because of heat-related issues.
Linebacker Zaire Franklin (hip) was added to the injury list and did not participate. Defensive ends Jabaal Sheard (knee) and Kemoko Turay (neck) also missed a second consecutive day.
Safety Clayton Geathers sat out of practice for rest.