Donnie Avery never questioned whether or not he would return to his old form.
Taken as the first wide receiver in the 2008 NFL Draft, Avery caught just three balls the past two seasons after suffering an ACL injury in 2010.
After a touchdown in Week 1 and nine catches for 111 yards on Sunday against the Vikings, Avery now has proof that he can be that player.
“Every day I just told myself, ‘Work hard, work hard, work hard, and things will happen and open up,’ Avery said. “Like (Pagano) says all the time, ‘Just work the process and things will open up for you.’
Avery joined ‘Voice of the Colts’ Bob Lamey on Monday night’s Pagano Show.
He said that he had ‘no doubt’ that he would return to the player that had a total of 100 catches for 1,263 yards in his first two NFL seasons.
The 111-yard performance by Avery is the second highest in his five-year NFL career.
He made numerous catches in traffic against the Vikings and his effort included a 41-yard grab in the first quarter to set up a Dwayne Allen touchdown.
“We just were clicking, calling the right plays at the right time. I had opportunities to catch the ball and that’s what I did,” Avery said.
The Colts signed Avery on March 26 in hopes to see the sub-4.3 40-yard dash speed that he had early in his career.
Avery knows what got him to the NFL and his ability to stretch the field was something he keyed on during the offseason.
“Work on the biggest thing I have to bring which is speed,” Avery said of his offseason work. “Working on my speed, working on my hands and staying in the playbook.”
A hip point injury forced Avery to miss the first two preseason games this year but since returning, he has been a steady option for quarterback Andrew Luck.
At a time of uncertainty in his career, Avery has found an opportunity and a potential long-term home to showcase his skills.
“I’d like to thank (coach Pagano). He called me in the offseason and he told me that I would fit in well here so I believed him and got on board with him,” Avery said.
Tags: Andrew Luck, chuck pagano, donnie avery
Posted in Colts Blog
The Indianapolis Colts today released defensive tackle Chigbo Anunoby and tackle Darrion Weems from the practice squad. The Colts signed nose tackle Nicolas Jean-Baptiste and tackle Tony Hills to the practice squad.
Jean-Baptiste, 6-1, 337 pounds, was originally signed to the Baltimore Ravens practice squad as an undrafted free agent on May 11, 2012 out of Baylor. He was waived on August 31. At Baylor, Jean-Baptiste played in 49 games (21 starts) over four seasons, missing only one game in his collegiate career (2010 Texas Bowl due to injury). He recorded 94 tackles (51 solo), 12.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and four passes defensed.
Hills, 6-5, 304 pounds, was originally selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fourth round (130th overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft. He saw action in five regular season games and one postseason game with the Steelers before being waived on September 3, 2011. He later signed with the Denver Broncos on September 8, 2011. Hills saw action in one of the Broncos postseason games last season before he was waived on August 31, 2012.
Hills played 42 games at the University of Texas, starting his final 24 contests at left tackle and being named a first-team All-America selection by the Walter Camp Foundation following his senior year. He allowed just four quarterback sacks and seven pressures in 743 pass plays over his final two seasons.
Anunoby was originally signed by the Colts as an undrafted free agent on April 30, 2012. He was waived on August 31 and signed to the practice squad a day later.
Weems was originally signed to the Colts practice squad on September 3, 2012.
Posted in Colts Blog
“With the passing of Steve Sabol, this is a sad day for football fans everywhere. As someone who grew up watching NFL Films creations, I can attest to Steve’s vision and contribution to the incredible popularity of this sport. His, along with his father, Ed’s, creativity and passion for the game cultivated many, many avid fans. On behalf of the entire Colts organization I send our sympathy to the Sabol family and his colleagues at NFL Films.”
Tags: Jim Irsay, nfl films, steve sabol
Posted in Colts Blog
Even Chuck Pagano didn’t see this coming.
When linebacker Pat Angerer suffered a foot injury following the preseason opener against the Rams, the names behind him weren’t well known to Colts fans.
Jerrell Freeman was at the top of the list.
A product of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Freeman is fulfilling a lifelong NFL dream after three seasons in the Canadian Football League.
“Every time we get done, I look at the stat sheet and see 13 tackles again. I say, ‘Where’s this kid from again?’ head coach Chuck Pagano said on his Monday night radio show. “Only (general manager) Ryan Grigson can find those types of guys.
Grigson and his scouting staff might have found him but now it’s Freeman doing his own finding of NFL running backs.
“Jerrell is a guy that’s come in and we talked about next man up and opportunity and doing such a great job of studying so when that opportunity does show up, you can go in and be productive,” Pagano said. “He’s played a ton of plays in these first two ball games. His hard work and preparation is showing up on the field.”
Freeman has started the first two regular season games for Angerer.
With Angerer sidelined, the Colts are not only missing their leading tackler from 2011 but also the man in charge for making the calls for the defense.
Adding in his three starts in the preseason, Freeman says as the weeks go by, he is continuing to get more comfortable in the middle of the Colts hybrid 3-4 defense.
“I don’t want to say (the defense) is complicated but it’s one where you have to get a feel for a lot of things,” Freeman said. “When you get in there and you get enough reps, you start to get a feel for other players, feel for the call, where things are going to pop, what to do with your feet, being patient, all stuff like that.”
Freeman’s 18 tackles against the Vikings on Sunday led the team and he once again had a knack for making the big play.
To go along with his interception return for a touchdown in Week 1, Freeman’s forced fumble midway through the second quarter on Sunday ignited the Colts offense.
Pagano said playing time for Freeman will be a good problem to have when Angerer returns from a foot injury as thanks to the former CFL player, the Colts are beginning to create some quality depth in their linebacker corps.
“He’s exceeded all of our expectations,” Pagano said of Freeman. “That’s because of the work he’s put in and the time he’s put in. After losing Pat and having him step up and fill in, he’s done a remarkable job and you can see his progress and you can see him getting better with each series in each game.”
Tags: chuck pagano, Jerrell Freeman, pat angerer
Posted in Colts Blog
With a plethora of rookie players on the Colts roster, each week Colts.com will take a look at how the first-year players performed.
Dwayne Allen, TE: Allen recorded his first career catch that also ended up being his first career touchdown on Sunday. On a third-and-goal from the three-yard line, Allen found a spot in the Vikings zone and quarterback Andrew Luck found him for the first Colts score on the afternoon.
Vick Ballard, RB: Ballard saw action offensively and on special teams against the Vikings. He had six carries for 13 yards on Sunday. Ballard is second on the Colts with 10 carries through two games.
Coby Fleener, TE: Fleener had a pair of catches on Sunday for 16 yards. Both of Fleener’s catches came during the Colts 10 points in the final two minutes of the first half. Fleener is third on the Colts in receptions (eight) and receiving yards (98).
T.Y. Hilton, WR: Hilton saw his first NFL action as receiving and returning punts and kicks. After missing the Bears game due to a shoulder injury, Hilton caught a screen pass for 15 yards, and returned one kick for 19 yards and a punt for 11 yards.
Dominique Jones, TE: Jones saw action on both offense and special teams, mainly being used as a blocker.
Andrew Luck, QB: Luck was 21-of-30 for 224 yards with two touchdowns in his home debut. He was at his best during the game’s most crucial moments. Luck and the offense scored 13 of its 20 points in the final two minutes of each half.
Bradley Sowell, OT: Sowell was signed earlier this week off the Tampa Bay practice squad and played on special teams against the Vikings. When center Samson Satele left the game with a leg injury, Sowell was the Colts lone healthy lineman left on the bench.
Rookie wide receiver LaVon Brazill was active but did not see action against the Vikings. Quarterback Chandler Harnish was inactive for the second straight week.
Tags: Andrew Luck, Bradley Sowell, Chandler Harnish, Coby Fleener, Dominique Jones, dwayne allen, LaVon Brazill, T.Y. Hilton, vick ballard
Posted in Colts Blog
Chuck Pagano begins his third week of regular season games as an NFL head coach with a few chances for some teaching moments with his young team.
Yes, the No. 1 goal of getting the win on Sunday was achieved and in the NFL that is frankly all that matters.
But Pagano knows that as the season moves on, opportunities to amend giving up a two-touchdown fourth-quarter lead won’t always be there.
“It just goes to show you that when you talk about finishing the game, one of our goals on our stats sheet team goals is win the fourth quarter. We lost the fourth quarter. It was 14-3 in their favor,” Pagano said. “Fortunately for us, we had a lead going in and we were able to get out of there with a victory. But you’ve got to finish in this league.”
The Colts led 20-6 with 10:10 left in the fourth quarter and the Vikings took over at their own 46-yard line.
Offensively, the Colts were coming off their third straight three-and-out and were needing their defense to force a sixth straight scoreless possession for the Vikings.
Minnesota ate up 5:07 off the clock and scored on a fourth-and-goal from the four-yard line after Colts defensive end Cory Redding and Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph tipped a Christian Ponder pass.
Following a six-play drive by the Colts, the Vikings got the ball and were able to tie the score at 20 with just 31 seconds to play.
Fortunately for the Colts, the offense found its rhythm at the right time and kicker Adam Vinatieri’s 53-yard field goal saved a potential demoralizing loss.
For three-and-a-half quarters, the Colts seemed to have the game in control but the last five minutes showed the young players how quickly it can all change.
One area that Pagano was happy with his team’s performance was penalty avoidance.
The Colts saw in the second half how crucial field positioning became and penalty yardage added up quickly for the Vikings.
After two games, the Colts have 83 fewer yards in penalties than their opponents.
The discipline of avoiding penalties and continuing to limit big plays are things Pagano hopes to continue.
The Colts didn’t give up a single play of over 20 yards against the Vikings and that came after giving up eight such plays in Week 1.
“It’s a major point of emphasis,” Pagano said of penalty avoidance and eliminating the big play. “One year we did a stat in Baltimore out of 206 drives where we didn’t give up a big play and we didn’t have a penalty, and we gave up I think two touchdowns and five field goals out of 206 drives. So it’s a major point of emphasis.”
Tags: chuck pagano
Posted in Colts Blog
On a day when he averaged over 50 yards per punt, drew a penalty that kept a scoring drive alive and successfully flipped the field on two occasions, Colts’ punter Pat McAfee could only gush about the man to his left, kicker Adam Vinatieri. It was Vinatieri’s 53-yard field goal with eight seconds left that lifted the Colts to a 23-20 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
“I felt like I hit the ball pretty well, but I got to be a part of a Hall of Famer hitting a game-winner.”
McAfee’s part was important, serving as Vinatieri’s holder on the game-winner as well as his other two field goals and two extra points. Since becoming Vinatieri’s holder in 2009, the two have teamed up to convert all but one of 98 extra point attempts and 59 of 68 field goal attempts.
Watching the two during training camp, it’s clear there’s a great chemistry between them. It was during this year’s camp, with the Colts cutting salary and Vinatieri scheduled to earn $2 million, that some started speculating that the team might cut Vinatieri and hand over the place kicking duties to McAfee. That speculation was heightened when McAfee received a good number of reps with the field goal unit during practice and even booting a 31-yard field goal against the Rams in preseason. McAfee is known for his strong leg and regularly showed off his range in practice, connecting from 60 yards and beyond.
McAfee says any notion of him taking kicks is absurd. When asked whether or not the Colts would have considered trotting him out for a long field goal attempt had they not gotten in Vinatieri’s range, McAfee responded, “Never. There’s a fountain of youth Adam Vinatieri has found. He hits bombs on a regular basis.”
McAfee then turned to his locker neighbor and wondered aloud if Sunday’s kick would be on Vinatieri’s highlight reel when he’s inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“I might get in the Hall of Fame that way,” joked McAfee with his usual sense of humor.
The Colts might be rebuilding on offense and defense, but they can depend on a couple of veteran special teamers to come through in the clutch like they did Sunday.
Chuck Chapman is entering his second season as the editor and lead writer for Colts 101. He also covered the Cincinnati Bengals for the Sports Media 101. Chuck and his family are originally from Ohio, but have settled in Central Indiana and become big Colts fans. You can read Chuck’s other writing about the Colts at www.colts101.com.
Tags: Adam Vinatieri, pat mcafee
Posted in Colts Blog