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Adam Vinatieri to undergo season-ending knee surgery

The most difficult season of Adam Vinatieri's career is over.

The Colts kicker will undergo season-ending left knee surgery, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per a source informed of the situation. Indianapolis has placed him on IR.

ESPN first reported the news of his surgery.

Vinatieri missed Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers due to the knee injury, which he has been battling since training camp. Vinatieri sat out of much of the preseason in an attempt to expedite healing, which didn't end up working, but the 46-year-old soldiered on anyway.

The result was his worst statistical line of his career, in which Vinatieri made just 17 of 25 field goal attempts (a career-low 68 percent) and 22 of 28 extra-point attempts. His final game of 2019, a 31-17 loss to division rival Tennessee, included a 1 of 4 mark on field-goal attempts.

Long before last week, fans league-wide wondered: Is the seemingly ageless Vinatieri finally past his time in the NFL?

The revelation of the seriousness of his knee injury lends some insight as to why Vinatieri may have struggled this season, but it doesn't change two facts: Indianapolis was worse off with Vinatieri as its kicker in 2019, and at 46 years old, he's not getting younger.

Chase McLaughlin, who most recently served as a mercenary boot for the San Francisco 49ers, made 2 of 3 field goal attempts and all three of his point-after tries in Sunday's loss to Tampa Bay. It's unclear at this point whether he's a viable long-term candidate for the job, but he'll get the final three weeks of the regular season to attempt to prove himself.

Just days after Vinatieri was one of only two kickers named to the NFL's all-time team, he's staring at his football mortality. The kicker is in the final year of his contract and might be more likely to retire than reunite with the Colts in 2020.

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