INDIANAPOLIS – Listen to Lee Trevino’s response when someone asked the Hall of Fame golfer about competing under pressure.
Pressure is when you play for five dollars a hole with only two in your pocket.
Or there’s the approach Frank Reich is taking as the Indianapolis Colts look to reload at placekicker.
Pressure is when if you lose the day’s kicking competition, half the team has to run sprints.
Whether the motivation is financial anxiety or trying not to be the reason Justin Houston, DeForest Buckner, Quenton Nelson, Anthony Castonzo and a slew of other very large individuals have to run sideline-to-sideline sprints during practice, the objective is the same.
Respond to that pressure.
More to the point, it’s finding an appropriate motivational tool to assist in the evaluation of Chase McLaughlin and rookie Rodrigo Blankenship. Someone must emerge as Adam Vinatieri’s successor in the team’s first camp kicking competition since 1998 when Mike Vanderjagt outkicked incumbent Cary Blanchard.
The lack of preseason games has forced Frank Reich and special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone to amp things up in practice.
“We’re just having fun with it,’’ Reich said Tuesday on a Zoom conference call. “The guys are embracing it. I do think it helps and I think the kickers are responding.’’
The stakes are enormous but the ground rules simple.
Players with numbers 50 and above are assigned to one kicker while those wearing 49 and below are with the other kicker.
“Whoever wins the day,’’ Reich said, ‘the other team runs.’’
Tuesday, the kickers were perfect until Blankenship ricocheted a 42-yard attempt off the right upright. Shortly thereafter, the 50s-and-above ran sprints.
“Really the idea is because of no preseason games, just try to create pressure and there’s no greater pressure than having to perform for your teammates and not letting them down,’’ Reich said.
Anthony Walker smiled when asked whether he enjoyed being a pawn in the kicking competition. He’s wearing No. 54 after yielding his usual No. 50 to Houston during the offseason.
“I do when the 50s don’t have to run and it seems like I’ve been on the wrong side both times,’’ he said. “I love the competition. It’s bringing out the best in both of them.’’
Blankenship won the first two kicking competitions before McLaughlin regained the upper hand Tuesday.
“You see Chase came in with a chip on his shoulder today,’’ Walker said. “I don’t happen to be on his side today and he goes and makes every kick. Rodrigo was off to a hot start. The first two days he wins the competition and then he comes back and Chase gets him today.’’
“Just the competition. That’s all football is, competition bringing out the best in everyone. Those two are only going to thrive in that competition, so the best player is going to excel in it and the best player is going to win the competition.’’
McLaughlin was claimed off waivers last December when Vinatieri was placed on the injured reserve list with a knee injury. He converted 5-of-6 field-goal attempts and all 11 PATs. In January, he was signed to a one-year contract.
Blankenship was recipient of the Lou Groza Award last season as the nation’s top kicker. As a senior at Georgia, he converted 27-of-33 field-goal attempts (81.2 percent) and all 46 PATs. For his career, he knocked down 80-of-97 field goals and all 200 PATs.
Vinatieri, 47, continues to rehab his knee and clearly isn’t in the Colts’ plans following 14 years with the team and 24 seasons in the NFL.
Corner back Kenny Moore will miss at least a week after straining his groin in Monday’s practice, according to Reich.
Wideout T.Y. Hilton and tight end Trey Burton had “maintenance’’ days and did not practice Tuesday. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes also missed Tuesday’s work with an illness.
“Not in the building today,’’ Reich said. “Just being precautionary with that.’’
Turay making progress
Kemoko Turay remains on the physically unable to perform list. He ended 2019 on IR with a dislocated right ankle.
“He’s making good progress and he’s obviously an integral part of what we want to do,’’ Reich said. “He’s been really committed to rehabbing and getting back.
“We’ll just take it day-to-day.’’
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.