The Indianapolis Colts officially have a new kicker.
Indianapolis announced on September 17 that the team promoted kicker Chase McLaughlin from the practice squad to the active roster for the Week 2 matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Colts signed McLaughlin, along with rookie Lucas Havrisik, to their practice squad after waiving Rodrigo Blankenship on September 13. Indianapolis reportedly signed both McLaughlin and Havrisik with the intend of 1 of them winning the job in practice during the week.
Apparently, the winner of that competition was McLaughlin.
In addition to McLaughlin, the Colts also elevated veteran wide receiver Keke Coutee from the practice squad. Coutee will try and help replace receivers Michael Pittman Jr. and Alec Pierce, both of whom were ruled out for Week 2.
McLaughlin Is Colts Choice for Week 2
McLaughlin’s promotion doesn’t necessarily mean he’s the Colts kicker going forward. But he will have the first opportunity to be Blankenship’s replacement.
Week 2 will be McLaughlin’s 32nd NFL game. He owns a 75.5% field goal percentage on 49 career attempts. McLaughlin also has a pretty strong leg for kickoffs. About 45% of his career kickoff attempts have gone for touchbacks.
The Colts released Blankenship for struggling on field goals and kickoffs in Week 1. He missed a potential game-winning, 42-yard field goal in overtime and hit his last 2 kickoffs of the afternoon out of bounds for significant penalties.
In his last 8 games with the Colts, Blankeneship made only 69.6% of his field goals. Indianapolis is obviously hoping McLaughlin can be a big improvement on that percentage.
McLaughlin will certainly bring experience to the field in Jacksonville. He’s kicked for 6 different NFL teams, including the Colts in 2019. He went 5-for-6 in 4 games for the Colts at the end of that season.
Ironically, McLaughlin has also kicked for the Jaguars. He went 4-for-5 in 3 games with Jacksonville during 2020.
Indianapolis’ other option at kicker, Havrisik, has never kicked in an NFL regular season game. He made Pac-12 honorable mention kicking for the Arizona Wildcats the past two seasons.
Coutee to Make 2022 Debut
Two of Indianapolis’ top 3 receivers, Pittman and Pierce, will not play in Week 2. The Colts will be counting on unproven wideouts Parris Campbell, Ashton Dulin and Mike Strachan to fill the large void, but Indianapolis will also have Coutee available for snaps and targets.
Of those four wideouts, Coutee has the most experience.
In 25 career games, Coutee has posted 84 catches for 946 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns. In 2020, he recorded 33 receptions for 400 receiving yards.
That doesn’t sound like much, but going into training camp, Coutee was the only receiver on the Colts roster beside Pittman to have recorded a season with at least 400 yards.
The Colts waived Coutee on the final roster cut down day, but the team brought him back on the practice squad. That will prove to be a smart decision already if Coutee makes a difference in Week 2.
The 25-year-old receiver spent most of last season on the Colts practice squad. He played 2 games, receiving 1 target, which he caught for 5 yards. In those 2 games, Coutee played 33 snaps.
It will be interesting to see how the Colts deploy their receivers against the Jaguars. Pittman and Pierce combined to play 137 offensive snaps in Week 1. That should allow plenty of opportunities for receivers such as Coutee versus Jacksonville.
The Colts could also use more double-tight end sets and 2-running back formations to make up for the lack of receiver depth in Week 2.