When Ryan Grigson is building the backend of his 53-man roster, he is looking in particular at one specific unit.
Special teams was a priority that Colts Owner Jim Irsay pointed out to when hiring a new general manager and head coach a year ago this month.
Back during the summer, Grigson said that putting together a formidable special teams unit was something he ‘strived’ for and that was evident with its success this season.
“There’s an alert that’s next to the grade on the back end of the grade and it’s an alert that shows the player that has the makeup to be a core special teamer,” Grigson said in evaluating his roster.
“We really feel strongly about that part of the team.”
In the return game, the Colts broke a pair of touchdowns in the second half of the season and seem to have found an electric punt returner in T.Y. Hilton.
The big play ability of Hilton was a focal point offensively, but that trait also carries over to the return game.
“In terms of the draft I think we showed that by trading up to get T.Y. (Hilton),” Grigson said of the team’s diligence to address special teams.
“Without explosive returners how are you going to have great special teams? You can open up lanes and you can do this or that but you have to have explosive athletes that aren’t going to get caught.”
While Hilton began to receive a lot of attention near the end of the season, Grigson also wanted to point out the Colts punt coverage unit that included gunner Joe Lefeged.
Despite having to slide over to punt protector late in the season, due to an injury to safety Tom Zbikowski, Lefeged still led the team with 16 special teams tackles.
“He’s what you want in a core special teamer,” Grigson said of Lefeged. “He’s an eager beaver, he’s very confident, he makes plays, his motor doesn’t stop and he runs a 4.4 and he’s got good football intelligence, so he’s got a lot going for him.”
Along with Lefeged, gunner Sergio Brown (10 special teams tackles) excelled on the punt coverage unit.
Grigson feels that new special teams coach Tom McMahon has the pieces in place to build a strong special teams unit with plenty of depth for years to come.
“We want this thing to be a battle for them for starting spots,” Grigson said. “Chuck (Pagano) and I want there to be a spirit of competition in training camp like no other because it brings the best out of all of us, it really does. We’ll continue to do that every year no matter how deep this roster gets.”
Tags: Joe Lefeged, T.Y. Hilton
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National fan vote also selects Bears cornerback Charles Tillman and Browns kicker Phil Dawson as Captains
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver REGGIE WAYNE was named the offensive captain for USA Football’s 2012 All-Fundamentals Team through a national fan vote conducted Jan. 7-21.
The fourth annual USA Football All-Fundamentals Team, which honors 26 NFL players – 11 offense, 11 defense and four special teams – recognizes NFL players who exhibit exemplary football techniques for youth players to emulate. Playing fundamentally-sound football fosters better on-field performance and inherent safety benefits.
More than 10,000 fan votes were cast via www.facebook.com/usafootball to determine the team’s three captains – one for each phase of the game. Joining Wayne as captains are Chicago Bears cornerback CHARLES TILLMAN (defense) and Cleveland Browns kicker PHIL DAWSON (special teams).
Wayne is one of the best route runners in the NFL. By properly identifying and reading defensive coverages, he can run away from man-to-man or find the holes and sit down against a zone. Whether in traffic or in space, the 12-year NFL veteran also is highly skilled in securing the ball safely and turning upfield after the catch.
By being voted a captain, Wayne, Tillman and Dawson each will receive an equipment grant valued at $3,000 from USA Football to donate to the youth or high school football programs of their choice. USA Football is the official youth football development partner of the Colts, the NFL and each of the league’s other 31 teams.
“Football never stands still, yet strong fundamentals are timeless,” said CARL PETERSON, USA Football’s chairman and longtime NFL executive who helped select the team. “Reggie has demonstrated extraordinary fundamentals throughout his career. We’re proud to recognize him as an All-Fundamentals Team captain.”
Employing core football fundamentals advances a youth player’s performance and safety, particularly in the areas of blocking and tackling. USA Football has educated more than 100,000 youth football coaches in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., through its online courses and single-day coaching clinics. Approximately 3 million American children age 6-14 play organized tackle football, placing it among the country’s most popular youth sports.
2012 USA Football All-Fundamentals Team – Offense:
|Quarterback||Matt Ryan, Falcons|
|Running back||Arian Foster, Texans|
|Fullback||Henry Hynoski, Giants|
|Wide receiver (2)||Davone Bess, Dolphins||Reggie Wayne, Colts*|
|Tight end||Tony Gonzalez, Falcons|
|Tackle (2)||Ryan Clady, Broncos||Nate Solder, Patriots|
|Guard (2)||Mike Iupati, 49ers||Carl Nicks, Buccaneers|
|Center||Maurkice Pouncey, Steelers|
2012 USA Football All-Fundamentals Team – Defense:
|End (2)||Chris Long, Rams||J.J. Watt, Texans|
|Tackle (2)||Haloti Ngata, Ravens||Vince Wilfork, Patriots|
|Linebacker (3)||London Fletcher, Redskins||Chad Greenway, Vikings||Aldon Smith, 49ers|
|Cornerback (2)||Champ Bailey, Broncos||Charles Tillman, Bears*|
|Safety (2)||Thomas DeCoud, Falcons||Earl Thomas, Seahawks|
2012 USA Football All-Fundamentals Team – Special Teams:
|Return specialist||Leodis McKelvin, Bills|
|Kicker||Phil Dawson, Browns*|
|Punter||Andy Lee, 49ers|
|Long snapper||Greg Warren, Steelers|
* – denotes All-Fundamentals Team Captain
About USA Football: USA Football recommends national standards for America’s youth football community. As the sport’s national governing body in the United States, USA Football hosts dozens of football training events annually offering education for coaches, skill development for players and resources for youth football league commissioners. The independent non-profit is the official youth football development partner of the NFL and its 32 teams as well as the Atlantic Coast Conference. USA Football manages U.S. national teams within the sport for international competition and awards $1 million annually in equipment grants to youth and high school football programs based on merit and need. USA Football is chaired by former NFL team executive Carl Peterson.
Tags: Reggie Wayne
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