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Helmets Off: Britton Colquitt

Posted Sep 30, 2010

The second-year punter talks about his performance so far this season, the advantages of kicking in Denver and the history of NFL punters in his family in this edition of Helmets Off.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Britton Colquitt has taken over the full-time punting duties in just his second year in the NFL. He currently ranks fifth in the league in gross punting average -- ahead of his brother, Kansas City Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt. This week, Colquitt -- whose father and cousin also punted in the NFL -- heads back home to Tennessee as the Broncos take on the Titans.

How do you feel you're performing three games into your professional career?
"I feel like I'm getting better each game just as far as confidence and knowing how to be a professional and how to help the team out. I'm learning new stuff, and I feel like I could always help this team more -- I'm not going to give up in that area."

Can you tell right off your foot when you've kicked a huge punt -- like your 63-yarder against Seattle?
"It's like hitting a monster drive in golf -- you almost don't feel it, then it just takes off. That's exactly how it felt. I knew it was going to be a little bit long and I was just hoping that we could cover. That's the thing about a punt that long, even if you hang it up there good, it's often times a little bit too much for your coverage team. So it felt good, yeah, but it feels way worse when it gets returned for 63 as well."

Last week you only allowed one return for four yards -- what goes into that?
"I think hangtime is a big thing. Obviously the guys are doing great protecting me -- I don't ever feel any pressure or anything like that. We worked on last week after that (63-yard) punt, (Special Teams Coordinator Mike) Priefer was like, 'That was a great punt, but if you don't hit it 63 yards, then we get it down there and we cover them. If you hit it 50 yards, we'll end up covering that and there won't be any return.' So last week I just wanted to work on getting it higher. Not that the 63-yarder wasn't high, it was just too long. Especially here in Denver, you can concentrate on hitting it high and it's going to get at least 40, 45 yards usually. That's going to help our team the best, because I'm not worried about trying to hit long bombs."

Does kicking at high altitude really give you an advantage?
"Yeah. The ball kind of jumps off your foot a little better, so you can not-knowingly get ahold of one and it's going to travel farther. On the upside of that, you can just be like, 'Alright, I'm going to hammer this as high as I can,' and it's going to travel at least long enough to where it's good field position. So that's good. It's definitely a place that you can really experiment and figure out your best punt."

Do you and your brother Dustin have a competition going for who will have the better year?
"We're always rooting for each other. It's cool to be in the same division, and we both want to help our team win. As far as the statistical stuff, that's kind of on the side, that's not our focus. But I'm not going to lie, I called him this week -- he had a good game, but my numbers ended up fine and helped our team, and I told him, 'Your little brother had a higher net average than you this game,' and gave him a hard time about that. But he was just excited about it as I was. He's happy to see that. We like to give each other a hard time. Hopefully we'll be neck-and-neck and just kind of joke about it all year. The main thing is helping our teams win, and that's what both of our focuses are."

With your family history, did you always know you wanted to be a punter in the NFL?
"No. I grew up playing soccer and basketball, and I always wanted to play football but our parents wouldn't let us until high school. I wanted to play receiver, so I did receiver and free safety. My freshman year, that was Dustin's first year ever playing, his senior year. He never touched the football field or anything, then he got out there and ends up getting invited to walk on to play football (at the University of Tennessee). My eyes were kind of opened that my dad did this, my cousin did this, Dustin is now at Tennessee -- that could be my future. I realized it came kind of naturally just from my dad showing us little stuff in the back yard. I was like, 'This could be a really good opportunity.' And once I played my first football game in high school, it was like any kind of championship game in any other sport was like one regular-season (football) game as far as energy and fans. I was like, 'This is the sport.'"

Was there any pressure to follow that path?
"No. Everybody always would ask me that because seemingly there would be, but my parents never said, 'We want you to play football.' In fact, like I said, they wouldn't even let me play until high school. My dad, I guess he did it the right way -- he didn't pressure us, he taught us, and psychologically maybe he knew what he was doing letting us play in the backyard. He let us do what we wanted to do. We were good athletes -- we're not anymore because we're punters, we have to accept that -- but there was no pressure. Even at Tennessee I didn't feel pressured to fulfill that and do as good as they did. It was just something I saw as an opportunity and I enjoyed the pressure. If you don't enjoy the pressure as a punter or a kicker, then you're not going to make it."

Do you take just as much pride in your holding duties as punting?
"When I came in last year, I was really struggling with that. Points are huge, and Matt Prater's a great kicker, and they want to utilize the best out of him. If he can't have confidence in somebody, then that's going to be bad for the team. I really worked on that in the offseason, got in and worked with Prater every day. Even now that we've gotten started, we haven't let up. We're at least 30 holds on the JUGS Machine every day, then getting some with Lonie (Paxton). We're doing that every day. I feel like I'm still getting better at it. The biggest thing with doing all that work is I don't feel scared anymore. Last year when I would get out there for a hold, I would be like, 'Don't mess this up, don't mess this up.' Now I feel comfortable out there, and I think that's made it a lot better, too."

Do you and Robert Ayers stick together in the locker room as Tennessee guys against the rest of the players from SEC schools?
"Oh yeah. Especially a couple weeks ago when we played Florida, we've got to be all over the guys even though we haven't beaten Florida in a while. Me and Robert are talking smack. We definitely represent Tennessee and the SEC -- we're close on that. We play Georgia in a couple weeks, so we'll be all over Champ Bailey and Knowshon (Moreno), of course. It's amazing the pride that you take after you get out of there. Around these guys, it's awesome, I wear more Tennessee stuff now than I did when I was at Tennessee. You feel like I'm not just wearing the team's gear, now you're wearing it for pride. You're like, check out this orange -- everybody thinks it's the worst color ever, but I think it's the best."

The Vols are at LSU this Saturday -- what do you think?
"That's big. It's a young team -- all these true freshmen playing. It's their first away game and it's in Death Valley. That's scary. I know in my freshman year in 2005, it was the Hurricane Katrina year, and we were playing down there in Death Valley. The game got cancelled on Saturday so we played on Monday. None of the UT fans were able to come, no cheerleaders, no band, no nothing. So literally in the whole stands there were maybe like 100 UT fans scattered. You could hardly see them. And it was still wet. We had Erik Ainge and Rick Clausen sharing duties (at quarterback) then. It was the loudest place we've ever been. The first half was a blowout, it was like 21-7 or something like that, they were just killing us. Then in the second half we come out, Rick's in there, and we start just beating them up and start running the ball. We score the first touchdown -- it literally is silent, because the UT fans were so scattered, you can't even hear anybody cheering. It was crazy. We ended up going into double overtime and winning that game. That was the coolest experience of my life, and it was the quietest stadium I've ever been in during the second half, compared to the loudest in the first half. So who knows, there might be a game like that, because they were supposed to beat us that year. So who knows."