Chiefs’ Butker will miss Colquitt

Sam Mcdowell The Kansas City Star (TNS)
Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker (7) joins holder Dustin Colquitt (2) in watching the flight of a 44-yard fourth-quarter field goal to beat the Minnesota Vikings on November 3, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo.

Harrison Butker arrived in Kansas City nine days after losing his job. As a rookie that season in 2017, he walked into the Chiefs' locker room having never attempted a kick in an NFL game, and he couldn't be more serious about changing that.

And then he met his new team's elder statesman.

You see, punter Dustin Colquitt had a way of making a quick impression.

"He was definitely the jokester on the team," Butker said. "When I got there in 2017, I was super serious, very focused, which I'm glad that's part of my personality. But away from the field, he was able to get me to relax a little bit, and I think that's awesome, mentally, for me. I am going to miss that."

For the first time in his Chiefs career, Butker will share a specialists group with a punter other than Colquitt. The Chiefs parted ways with Colquitt earlier this offseason after he spent 15 years with the team. Tommy Townsend and Tyler Newsome will battle for the job.

The change for Butker stretches beyond the personal connection they forged that first day, beyond the sentimental value of a relationship he says will remain strong even as they are no longer teammates.

There's an impact on the field, too. Colquitt held all of Butker's field goal and extra point attempts — 252 of them combined — a job he performed beyond the visible mannerisms. He mastered it down a science. Butker often compared it to a caddie-golfer partnership.

"He was able to guide me," Butker said. "I'd go out there on really windy days, and sometimes I'd have an awful warmup off the sticks, and then Dustin would make a change with the hold, and I'd be kicking the ball straight and making them. So he was able to do a lot with the holds."

The preparation for the biggest change of his career -- at least since the Panthers waived him in 2017, opening the avenue to Kansas City -- has already begun.

Butker and long-snapper James Winchester have met regularly with Townsend and Newsome at local high school football fields around Kansas City. Including regular video meetings with coaches, Butker said the four have spoken about six times per week.

In the past three years, Butker spent the bulk of his time with the specialists simply listening.

Now he's the one speaking up.

"I think after three years of picking (Colquitt's) brain, I was able to pick up on a lot of his expertise," Butker said. "So now with Tommy and Tyler competing for the starting punting job, that obviously means they're going to be the holder. So we've been getting together six days per week and just building that relationship, building that bond. You have to be close -- you're going to be kicking game-winning kicks together, and you have to trust the other person. From there, just trying to figure out the communication for the ball lean, for the laces, for having their hands out when they're calling for the snap from James. There are so many small things that you have to perfect."