When wide receiver Donnie Avery became a free agent following last season he was not only looking for the right fit for him, but a team that wanted his talents as well.
Avery is known as a speed receiving threat and his ability to stretch the defense intrigued the Colts staff who were looking to fill a need at the wide receiver position.
Injury free and back in a role that will be counted on during the regular season, Avery feels as though this has been the best training camp he has had in his four-year NFL career.
“I’ve been fresher. I’m bigger as a receiver. I’m knowledgeable. I’m just out here having fun now,” Avery said following Friday morning’s walk-through.
Part of the reason Avery feels as though this has been his best camp is learning under the tutelage of fellow wide receiver Reggie Wayne.
Rookie wide receiver LaVon Brazill and T.Y. Hilton are frequently thought of as the ones hounding Wayne for questions about life in the NFL, but even Avery admitted that he has chatted with the Pro Bowler about becoming a more complete receiver.
“It’s really important because like I said he’s been here for a lot of years and he’s been to Super Bowls,” Avery said of Wayne. “He’s been to numerous training camps so he knows what it takes to excel when you feel like you hit your wall.”
During Avery’s first two seasons in the NFL he caught 53 and 47 passes respectively for the St. Louis Rams including leading the team in receiving during the 2009 campaign.
In 2010, he suffered an unfortunate knee injury, and played in just eight games last year with Tennessee.
Now, Avery feels like the same player who was the first receiver taken in the 2008 NFL Draft. He has shown off his 4.27, 40-yard dash speed he ran in his pro day at Houston that year.
The speed that Avery and the fellow rookies have brought to the offense has caught the eye of Wayne and even sparked an interest in a potential race between the trio in the near future.
“We have some burners. That’s something we really haven’t had in the past. We’ve had one here, two there, but we have quite a few of them right now. It’s good to see those guys actually go out there and run. Guys are out there just acting like they’re in the Olympics,” Wayne said.
Tags: donnie avery, LaVon Brazill, Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton
Posted in Colts Blog
By number only, 25 years-old isn’t normally considered an age for a ‘leader’ in the NFL.
However, there are exceptions to every rule, and Colts cornerback Jerraud Powers provides an example of exactly that.
First, Powers is of a rare breed. He went out of his way to take a leadership role early in his NFL career.
Second, the cornerback position that Powers is currently leading has 10 other players that have combined to play a total of four seasons with the Colts.
Put those two things together and Powers is the go-to man on and off the field at the cornerback spot during the 2012 training camp.
“I’ve got to speak up a little bit and let those guys hear and see what and how it should be done, the right way,” Powers said. “I’ve been embracing everything that’s happened this whole entire offseason, with the new staff, new front office, new players and all that.”
On the field Powers has been leading with his play. During the Colts’ first two days with pads on, Powers made a diving play to break up a potential touchdown in the end zone and then had an interception return for a touchdown on Thursday.
“We’ve been having a tremendous camp at the corner position, a lot of competition at the position. I think it’s bringing the best out of everybody,” Powers said. “We were looked at as a thin group but we got some guys that are going to prove themselves. I think we are going to be pretty deep at the position when it’s all said and done.”
Safety Antoine Bethea and Powers are the only players in the Colts secondary that have had more than two years with the team.
With a relatively inexperienced secondary entering training camp, Powers knew that he had to tweak his leadership style in order to handle so many new faces.
“The young guys in the secondary know if they need anything from me as far as trying to study the playbook extra to do that. They can just come to me and I’ll be right there to do it. I’m more of a guy that tries to lead by action rather than words. I’m not a big ‘rah rah’ guy but I think this year is a year we have so many young guys, I have to speak up more,” Powers said.
The message throughout training camp from all units is the feeling that everyone is buying into the new system. Even though people on the outside have their doubts about the Colts, those on the inside are ready to prove the doubters wrong.
“As a team, everybody has bought in and has embraced the challenges that we have coming ahead and they’re embracing the idea of everybody sort of having their back turned to us now, probably one of the first times in Indy. Everybody is embracing it and I think we are building something special and I think they brought in the right guys to do it,” Powers said.
Tags: Antione Bethea, jerraud powers
Posted in Colts Blog
Even before he was drafted, fans of the Indianapolis Colts were hailing Andrew Luck as the “savior” of the franchise. As the Colts opened training camp in preparation for the 2012 season, both head coach Chuck Pagano and Luck were quick to challenge that idea.
Chuck Pagano told media members gathered for the team’s first practice that the Colts are being careful not to overload Luck, despite his unique talents and experience beyond his years.
“Because he is so bright you might try to force feed him, so to speak, and give him more and more. But you don’t want to get the cart before the horse. Let’s take it one day at a time and do your job as well as you can and execute the offense.”
Pagano downplayed any notion that Luck is responsible for the rebuilding job that faces the franchise. Instead, he emphasized the “family” atmosphere he’s trying to create with a focus on each player assuming responsibility for his role:
“We’ve surrounded him with enough weapons and have an offensive line group we feel really good about. He doesn’t have to bear the weight of this whole thing on his shoulders.”
For his part, Luck also dismissed any notion that he’s looking in any rear view mirrors. Luck said he doesn’t have time to think about predecessors or what the team might have done in the past. The task before him is large enough without that added pressure.
“I come in and do my job…if I woke up everyday comparing myself to Peyton, I’d go crazy.”
For all the attention Luck has had to deal with as the number one overall pick in the NFL draft, he sounds an awful lot like any other NFL rookie trying to make his way:
“I’m just worried about not being late to meetings and knowing where the practice field is.”
Tags: Andrew Luck, chuck pagano
Posted in Colts Blog
For Colts rookie running back Vick Ballard, life in the NFL is much different than the one he just left in Starkville, MS. No, it’s not about getting paid now (insert your favorite joke about SEC football) but rather the different mentality required to succeed in the NFL.
At Mississippi State, Ballard was the Bulldogs’ “workhorse” running back and a co-captain as a senior. In his two seasons in Starkville, he was as dependable a runner as could be found in the always strong SEC. Ballard averaged almost 5.7 yards per carry for his career and scored 29 touchdowns on the ground and added two more as a receiver. He was the focal point for opposing defensive coordinators trying to stop Mississippi State.
Having fallen to the fifth round because of concerns about his size and durability, Ballard now faces an uphill battle, trying to distinguish him in a very crowded Colts backfield competition. He feels that he must play mistake-free football here in the preseason and take advantage of every opportunity.
“It’s true what they say about the NFL. Everybody’s good, everybody’s fast, everybody’s strong. I’ve been pretty decent so far, but I’ve got to concentrate on staying mistake free to get noticed.”
The opportunities to get noticed have been few so far for Ballard. He’s been mainly working with the third team offense along with Delone Carter behind quarterback Chandler Harnish. Ballard says that’s been the biggest challenge for him so far as a pro:
“The biggest challenge for me is to stay on top of the game on the sideline. I’m limited in the touches I get, so I have to make sure to always be taking ‘mental reps’ while the other guys are out there.”
After growing up in Pascagoula, MS and playing his college ball in Starkville, Ballard is still trying to take in the size of Indianapolis.
“Oh, it’s a lot bigger than anything in Mississippi. There’s a whole lot more to do here. I like it. I don’t have a lot of free time right now, but I’m hoping to get out and see more of the city.”
For now, Ballard is concentrating on doing the things necessary to make sure he has that time to explore his new home.
Tags: Mississippi State, vick ballard
Posted in Colts Blog