Ain't That a Kick?


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Jan 22, 2006
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Ain’t that a kick?
Punter Colquitt has been impressive during preseason and will be counted on as a ‘weapon.’
The Kansas City Star
“Thriller” is blasting out of the speakers of his Suburban, and Dustin Colquitt waits near the gate, engine running, coaches coming. It’s roughly a half-mile run from the practice field to the stadium, and Colquitt and his buddy Lawrence Tynes try to be there every day after practice to provide background jogging music.
“They probably think we’re crazy,” Tynes says.

Kickers, especially in Kansas City, are wired a little differently. You’d have to be, with this offense. Here, the word punter was a four-letter word, a punch line after the days of Jason Baker and Steve Cheek.

The first week Colquitt was in town, he walked into the locker room and heard repeated mumblings of: “Are you serious? A punter?” The Chiefs had two first-day picks in last year’s draft, and Colquitt’s name was called near the end of the night, to the shock of thousands of fans.

But it all makes sense now, even in the lower regions of the stadium. If the first three preseason games had a collective MVP, it would have to be Colquitt, consistently nailing 50-yard punts, showing what he couldn’t last year with the NFL’s most prolific offense scoring and driving all the time.

“He’s a weapon,” Chiefs coach Herm Edwards says. “I told him and our team: ‘We really don’t want to use him a whole lot. You really don’t want to be punting a whole bunch.’ ”

Colquitt has already punted 22 times, more than a third of his work for the entire 2005 season. The first two preseason games, in losses on the road against Houston and the New York Giants, he was arguably the only bright spot. Every time the offense went three-and-out, Colquitt uncorked a left-footed, spiraling beauty. He’s carried a 48.4 average, 41.4 net, and has placed five punts inside the 20.

His preseason numbers are nearly 10 yards higher than last year, in part because the offense was so productive that he was often kicking from near the 50-yard line.

But Colquitt doesn’t see his job taking on any added significance this year. He says the offense has been going basic in the preseason, and once Mike Solari opens up the playbook, he’ll be booting those smaller, “more important” punts. In a lot of ways, his job is easier now that he’s had a year to adjust to the ball, the grind, and his new role as a holder to Tynes.

If that wasn’t enough to tackle as a rookie, adding to his frustrations was the fact that a specialist came in last summer to help Colquitt with his technique. He changed his stance, his steps, and threw Colquitt out of whack. He can’t remember what the guy’s name was now.

“That set me back a little bit,” Colquitt says. “Also, the holding thing threw a whole ’nother curve ball to me in the sense that I really had to focus on that because I’d never done it before.

“It’s very … it doesn’t happen very often that a punter goes in the first day (of the draft). I had a whole lot to live up to, but then again in Tennessee it was the same way.”

Punting in front of nearly 110,000 screaming fans may have prepared Colquitt for the NFL. His bloodlines as the son of a former Steelers punter didn’t hurt, either.

The Chiefs’ net punting game finished dead last in the NFL when the coaches worked out Colquitt at the Senior Bowl. With his towering, funky-spinning, left-footed punts, Colquitt was one of a handful of punters expected to go in the 2005 draft. Few expected him to be called with the 99th overall pick.

Out in New York, Mike Priefer’s ears perked up with the selection. Priefer, the Chiefs’ new special-teams coach, said Colquitt was high on the Giants’ list, too, but wasn’t the No. 1 punter on their draft board.

“But he’s proven to be the top punter in that class so far,” Priefer says. “He did what they asked him to do. I said it many times, I think Frank (Gansz Jr.) did a great job with him last year. It’s very difficult to be a punter as a rookie. It’s a long season, and you’re a holder for the first time.

“He did a heck of a job, especially for a rookie.”

Quietly, the Chiefs believe they may have a future Pro Bowler in Colquitt. If he gets to Hawaii this year, it could mean the offense is struggling. And if he doesn’t …

Colquitt will just pop in another CD and relax in his Suburban after practice. He burns music for the coaches’ daily run, and they make requests from his huge selection of country, rap, and the “Thriller” CD.

As kicking specialists who do a lot of work on their own, Colquitt and Tynes like to do anything they can to help the team. Through the preseason, they’ve done their share.

“God willing, I’d love to make (the Pro Bowl),” Colquitt says. “I’m going to work as hard as I can to get that. But it’s tough within this offense, the way we do punt here, to have those big numbers.

“My big thing is if I can get a couple of people to fumble in these 16 games and get good field position back for our offense, that would make me just as happy.”

Looking good
It’s only the preseason, but the Chiefs’ Dustin Colquitt is already ranked at the top of the list of NFL punters.

Category Total Rank
Punt average 48.4 1st
Avg. after return 41.4 3rd
Yards 1,064 1st
Long 69 Tied 2nd
Inside the 20 5 times Tied 2nd


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