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Colts' kickoff, punt return game still work in progress

Donte Moncrief knows how to score TDs for the Colts, but he's just now getting more experience at kickoff returns. Bill Wippert/AP

INDIANAPOLIS -- Rookies Josh Robinson and Tyler Varga and second-year player Donte Moncrief all had their turns at returning kickoffs. Griff Whalen and rookie Phillip Dorsett took shots at returning punts.

What's that mean?

The Indianapolis Colts are still a work in progress when it comes to their return game.

The kickoff return job became open after Daniel Herron was waived/injured following his injury in the preseason finale.

"We're young and we've got a bunch of guys that it's their first professional outing returning kicks. Phil for the first time, Varga for the first time, Donte hasn't been back there much," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said.

The Colts had a total of 59 yards on a combined five punt and kickoff returns in their Week 1 loss. They also had two significant mistakes.

Moncrief fielded a kickoff that was only a yard deep in the end zone. That wasn't the problem. The problem was that his blocks were set up opposite of him. Moncrief tried to sprint over toward where the blocks were, only to end up gaining five yards, which forced the Colts to start their drive at their own 4-yard line, on the return.

"I take responsibility on Donte's," Pagano said. "We get a high kick. It hangs up in the air forever. It's opposite side of the return, and he's moving forward to catch it. When you talk to the kid, we give him a landmark. If you're this deep in the end zone, stay in. If you're five or less, four or less, whatever it is, bring it out. Well, he's running over there to catch the ball. His momentum is going right to the goal line. Sometimes you don't know.

"He ended up getting positive yards. We don't want to start on the minus four-yard line. That's on me. We've got to coach him up better. We've got to do a better job in that area."

Dorsett fumbled two punts, losing the second one where Buffalo recovered it and used the short field to add three points on its lead in the fourth quarter.

"Catch it with your eyes," Pagano said. "Everybody thinks they have it and they want to look down the field and see all that green grass. Catch it with your eyes. You've got to look it in just like catching a pass. At the end of a football, the laces, there's an 'X' on the end of it. See the 'X', tuck it away. It's fundamentals, and it's technique."