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Chiefs replacing a punting institution with fiery Tommy Townsend

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Who will Chiefs turn to at punter after releasing Colquitt? (0:37)

Adam Teicher reports on the Chiefs' decision to part ways with punter Dustin Colquitt after 15 seasons. (0:37)

Tommy Townsend is a punter trying to take over the position with the Kansas City Chiefs long held by Dustin Colquitt.

He thinks of himself more as a position player than kicking specialist, and it showed when he was in college at Florida during a 2018 game against Vanderbilt. Townsend ran the ball out of a fake punt formation, and even after gaining the first down he was never tackled to the ground, holding himself up against defenders until the play was whistled dead.

He wound up getting into a shoving match with one of his opponents.

"I've always had a little bit of fire as a football player," Townsend said. "Growing up I played running back and in high school I played corner and safety, so I've always been pretty aggressive. That's one thing I have in my mind that I think is an advantage. I'm a little bit more aggressive than the typical punter."

Whether that helps Townsend get the job has yet to be determined, but if he does replace Colquitt, who was released last month, it's going to be a drastic change for the Chiefs. They went 15 years with the left-footed Colquitt, who became a punter after playing soccer as a kid and wasn't the type to confront an opponent at the end of a play.

Even if the Chiefs eventually go with the other punter on their roster, Tyler Newsome, or go outside their roster to find Colquitt's replacement, things will be different for them. Colquitt, a two-time Pro Bowler, played in more games (238) for the Chiefs than anyone in franchise history.

"Dustin is one of the greatest Chiefs of all time, and I'm grateful I had the opportunity to coach him these past seven years,” coach Andy Reid said. "The longevity of his career here in Kansas City shows you just how consistently he has performed at a high level. Beyond his impact on the field, he was a great teammate and leader. I will always be a huge Dustin Colquitt fan.”

Special teams coach Dave Toub said, "He's the best punter I ever coached, the best punter I've ever been around. He's going to be hard to replace."

The Chiefs signed Newsome, who went into training camp in 2019 as an undrafted rookie with the Los Angeles Chargers, at the end of last season. They signed Townsend as an undrafted rookie this year but gave him $75,000 in guaranteed salary and then released Colquitt, two indications they believe he is advanced enough to be their punter.

"The kid's got a lot of talent," Toub said. "I had him rated as the best punter coming out this year.

"It is going to be a true competition. There's really nobody out in front right now as we look at it. They both have really strong legs, really powerful. They consistently hit over 5.0 hang times, which is really impressive. Tommy's a little more I would say clean in his technique as far as consistency, where as Tyler is more erratic with his technique but the results are the same. They both bomb the ball. We just need to clean Tyler up a little bit more."

Townsend, like Colquitt, is from a punting family. His brother Johnny also punted at Florida and was a fifth-round pick in 2018 by the Oakland Raiders. He punted for the Raiders as a rookie before being released.

Johnny Townsend became a punter in high school because his team needed someone to do the job. He was almost immediately good enough to become a college prospect.

"As he started going through the recruiting process," Tommy Townsend said, "he starting picking up some offers and I kind of decided, 'You know what? I can do this, too. Why can't I do it?' I kind of followed in his footsteps, and here we are.

"It's pretty crazy. Looking back as a kid, I can't say I ever thought I'd be a punter in the place I am now. It's kind of cool how everything worked out. I had been hearing amazing things about the Chiefs, the coaching staff and the culture that the Chiefs' organization brings forward. It was always something in the back of my mind that told me the Chiefs would be a really good spot for me."

Colquitt's father punted for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts. His brother Britton has played for three NFL teams and is currently with the Minnesota Vikings.

Townsend and Dustin Colquitt have another connection. Before transferring to Florida, Townsend spent his freshman season at Tennessee, where Colquitt had played from 2001 to 2004.

"Of course I've always heard stuff about Dustin," Townsend said. "He's a legend and not just in the punting industry but for the Chiefs and throughout the NFL. They've been with Dustin for a really long time. He's a guy that's done everything the right way. The biggest thing for me is to make a name for myself and become my own person."

As for replacing a legend, Townsend should be ready for that kind of pressure. At Florida, he replaced his brother, who led the country in punting average during his final two collegiate seasons.

"It's exciting to have the chance to try to live up to the standard he's set," Townsend said. "That's something that doesn't scare me. ... To me it's an opportunity to try to do what he's done."