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Chiefs stick with Succop and Colquitt but want improvement in kicking game

  • The Kansas City Star
  • Published Wednesday, May 29, 2013, at 4:41 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, May 30, 2013, at 5:11 p.m.

The Chiefs made their thoughts known on Dustin Colquitt last winter when they re-signed him to a long-term contract that makes him the highest-paid punter in the league.

They took more time revealing their opinion about Ryan Succop, but that, too, eventually became public when they opened offseason practice this month, and he was the only kicker on their roster.

The Chiefs are hoping to make big improvements in their kicking game. They hired Dave Toub, long considered one of the best in the business, as their new special teams coach and Kevin O’Dea as his assistant to specifically work with the kickers.

But they won’t change their punter or kicker.

“We’re not going to bring anyone in,’’ Toub said, meaning training camp competition for either player. “That’s the way we’re looking at it. We’ve got a good kicker and a good punter. We’re going to let those guys get to know us and we’re going to get to know them, and those are our guys.’’

That stance makes sense with Colquitt. He was the AFC’s Pro Bowl punter last year for the first time and, with his new five-year contract worth almost $19 million as evidence, was a priority to retain for new general manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid.

“I was very appreciative that Andy wanted me back,’’ Colquitt said. “John told me that right off the bat as soon as he got here, ‘Don’t plan on going anywhere.’

“I didn’t want to leave. I set roots down here in 2005 and intended to stay for my career.’’

Colquitt might have difficulty improving over last season, when he led the league with 45 punts downed inside the 20-yard line.

“I could have been better last year in a lot of things,’’ Colquitt said. “There are a few touchbacks there that really would have changed the outcome of where the defense could have run on the field.

“More inside the 20, I’ve got to keep that number up there in the mid-40s. I showed I could do it last year and I’ve got to do it again this year, help set up our defense.’’

Toub once worked for Reid with the Eagles, so he had a comfort level coaching for him again. But the chance to work with Colquitt was part of the reason he joined the Chiefs.

“I’m not sure I’ve ever had a punter like him as far as the way the ball flies off his foot,’’ Toub said. “It’s amazing. He’s a bomber. He can flip the field for you. He’s definitely a guy that we’re happy to have.’’

The Chiefs’ thinking with Succop is more difficult to understand. Succop had some big moments last year, particularly during an early season game in New Orleans where his six field goals helped the Chiefs to an overtime victory.

He missed only six field goals in 34 attempts last season, but most of those misses came in games that were close at the time. The Chiefs couldn’t be blamed if they had looked for a more reliable kicker, but competition for Succop never materialized.

“I like getting all the reps,’’ Succop said. “I think that’s a good way of doing it. I’ll just continue to go out and keep hitting the ball well and not worry about anything else.

“I work a lot with Kevin because he’s more of the kicking coach and really understands the fundamentals and the mechanics. It’s been really a blessing to be able to work with him because he’s able to point out things I didn’t realize I was doing wrong here and there. It’s going to make a big difference. I’m excited about it.’’

It wouldn’t take much for the Chiefs to find some competition for Succop, just a phone call and a plane ticket. But it sounds like the Chiefs are nowhere close to that stage.

“Having the opportunity to work with Kevin, I’m not worried about that,’’ Succop said. “I’m worried about coming out here and improving a little bit every day. If I do that, we’re going to be in good shape.’’

To reach Adam Teicher, call 816-234-4875 or send email to ateicher@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/adamteicher.

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