Indianapolis Colts Football

BETHEA’S 107 GAMES PLAYED DWARFS YOUTHFUL SECONDARY IN INDIANAPOLIS

Posted by Kevin Bowen on May 23, 2013 – 7:40 am

The Colts secondary currently has 17 members.

Of those 17, just one was with the team prior to the 2012 season.

Antoine Bethea is the mainstay and his 107 games of experience in a Colts uniform is almost half of the total number the rest of the secondary carries with them into 2013.

Player Games Played in Indianapolis
S-Antoine Bethea 107
S-Joe Lefeged 32
CB-Cassius Vaughn 16
S-Sergio Brown 16
CB-Josh Gordy 15
CB-Darius Butler 11
CB-Vontae Davis 10
CB-Teddy Williams 7
S-Delano Howell 6

This is season No. 8 for Bethea and while OTAs for some veterans might not seem like a drag, the Pro Bowl safety remembers his days as a youthful defensive back trying to make the roster.

“At one point, you were that young guy and you never really want to be that guy walking around the locker room, never really saying anything to you, feeling like a loner,” Bethea said. “So most definitely you’ve got to pull those guys closer and show them the ropes.”

Bethea was one of the loudest voices on the practice field on Wednesday as the unit attempts to gel in year two of a new defensive system.

The secondary was very active on Wednesday afternoon with numerous pass breakups and a pair of interceptions.

To many Colts fans the names in the secondary are still a bit foreign but ask Bethea, and the system is beginning to sound familiar with a year of experience.

“This time last year my head was spinning in circles but this year right now, I feel a lot more comfortable to really just go out there, make plays and use my athletic ability,” Bethea said.

“We are talking a lot more, very vocal and that’s a good thing.”

Back in 2006, there was Bethea as a rookie starting safety helping the Colts capture Super Bowl XLI.

Now he stands in the secondary as the elder statesmen, by a wide margin, and it’s the hunger he sees in the guys around him that has the No. 41 striving to get back to the game’s pinnacle.

“We’ve got some young guys that are ready to step in and help this team, so I’m excited,” Bethea said. “I’m pretty sure they’re excited. I’m sure it’s overwhelming right now with everything that the coaches are throwing at them but they are doing a good job.”


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CULTURE CLUB

Posted by craigkelleycolts on April 4, 2013 – 10:45 am

Pat McAfee on Wednesday signed his franchise tender, the sixth such player in the league to do so.

The move by McAfee will earn him a one-year guaranteed salary, and the team still has time to reach a multiple-year agreement with him.

The club has had a busy off-season with the addition of new players and the retention of some who made contributions last year and in previous seasons.

Ryan Grigson has spoken in the past of the importance of “culture” on the team.  McAfee is a very big piece of the culture.

Since joining the club in 2009, he has been a very solid performer.  Entering his fifth season, McAfee has punted 290 times for a franchise-record 45.5 average.  He has had 89 punts land inside the 20, while nailing 123 touchbacks on kickoffs.

Yardage gained by special teams success often is overlooked.  It’s even called “hidden” yardage.

It was not so hidden last year in two division victories.  A first-quarter 42-yard punt by McAfee was fair caught at the Jacksonville 10-yard line.  A defensive stop set the stage for a Colts field goal and a 3-0 lead.

A third-quarter placement punt of 36 yards was killed at the Jaguars’ four and two plays later, Darius Butler picked off a pass for an easy scoring return and a 24-3 lead.

Five games later, a booming 52-yard effort by McAfee in the third quarter went out of bounds at the Tennessee one-yard line.  A play later, Cassius Vaughn picked off a pass and stepped into the end zone for a score, one that put the Colts ahead, 21-20, after trailing by 13 points at halftime.

Those are dramatic examples of the talents McAfee possesses.  He has set the franchise seasonal records for gross yardage in consecutive seasons (46.6, 2011; 48.2, 2012).  This past year, he set the club seasonal net record at 40.3.  His 26 kicks inside the 20 tied Hunter Smith’s 2002 mark.

Enough about numbers.  McAfee is a personal presence, too.

In addition to being one of the most savvy and visible communicators in the club’s Indianapolis era, he is a standup guy.

People remember the Broad Ripple incident two years ago, and how McAfee handled addressing it showed manner of the man and the quality of his heart.

There are many players in the locker room who combine to make this a positive culture.  It is one that will help win games, and McAfee will be a part of the process.

Players return later this month to start working.  It is a time to feel good, if you’re a Colts fan.

Having Pat McAfee going into competition is an advantage for Indianapolis.

 


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THREE COLTS PLAYERS HAVE BRAGGING RIGHTS IN NCAA TOURNAMENT

Posted by Kevin Bowen on March 27, 2013 – 12:20 pm

The NCAA Tournament has been trimmed down to the Sweet 16 and for nearly all the 75 players currently on the Colts roster, fandom will have to turn elsewhere than the colleges they attended.

For wide receiver Reggie Wayne (Miami), nose tackle Brandon McKinney (Michigan State) and running back Delone Carter (Syracuse) hope is still there to watch their respective schools cut down the nets in Atlanta a week from Monday.

For others like Erik Walden (Middle Tennessee State) the dream died in the play-in game.

A trio of Ole Miss Rebels (cornerbacks Marsahy Green/Cassius Vaughn and offensive tackle Bradley Sowell) saw their school go from a No. 13 seed to a shot away from making the Sweet Sixteen.

Players that saw their schools bow out in round of 64 included: safety Sergio Brown/running back Robert Hughes (Notre Dame), outside linebacker Justin Hickman (UCLA), offensive tackle Ben Ijalana (Villanova), offensive tackle Jeff Linkenbach/defensive tackle Ricardo Mathews (Cincinnati), wide receiver Jabin Sambrano (Montana), nose tackle Martin Tevaseu (UNLV) and kicker Adam Vinatieri (South Dakota State).

Defensive tackle Kellen Heard (Memphis) watched his Tigers drop a round of 32 matchup with McKinney’s Spartans.


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RESTRICTED FREE AGENT CB-CASSIUS VAUGHN SIGNS QUALIFYING OFFER

Posted by coltsindianapolis on March 18, 2013 – 4:54 pm

Cassius VaughnThe Indianapolis Colts today announced that restricted free agent cornerback Cassius Vaughn has signed his qualifying offer.

 

Vaughn was originally acquired by the Colts in a trade with the Denver Broncos on May 23, 2012. In 16 games (11 starts) last season, he recorded career highs in tackles (70), passes defensed (nine) and fumble recoveries (two) while notching his second career interception return for a touchdown. He also returned 10 kickoffs for 209 yards.

 

In Week 14 against Tennessee, Vaughn earned AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for the first time in his career after recording eight solo tackles, three passes defensed and a three-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter to give the Colts a 21-20 lead.

 

For his career, Vaughn has played in 38 games (14 starts), totaling 92 tackles (78 solo), 13 passes defensed, three fumble recoveries and two interceptions returned for touchdowns. On special teams, he has returned 19 kickoffs for 544 yards, including a 97-yard touchdown.


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DAVIS A FULL PARTICIPANT AT PRACTICE

Posted by Kevin Bowen on November 30, 2012 – 8:48 am

While the Colts have been winning four of their past five games, cornerback Vontae Davis has been merely an observer during the Colts successful month of November.

As the calendar turns to December, Davis looks to be back on the gridiron this weekend after being a full participant in practice the past two days.

“I’m just happy to be back with the team,” Davis said on Thursday. “We have a lot of good guys in the locker room and I mean it’s home for me right now. It’s football. I love football. It’s a fun game and I can’t wait to get back on the field.”

The potential addition of Davis in the secondary comes at a welcoming time for the Colts defense.

All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson awaits the Colts this weekend and no matter who lines up across from him this weekend, you can expect multiple players to be assigned to him throughout the game.

“Put two guys over (Johnson) and even then sometimes he goes up and gets some balls,” Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said of defending Johnson. “I’ve seen a good performance from him over the last couple of weeks and over the entire season. He’s a formidable guy that’s out there and we’ve got to defend him.”

Cornerbacks Darius Butler and Cassius Vaughn have been the starters the last three weeks after Jerraud Powers was placed on injured reserve with a toe injury following the Jaguars game on Nov. 8.

In trying to limit the league’s second best offense, Butler stressed trying to force someone other than No. 81 to make plays.

“Obviously, a lot of the offense is based around (Johnson) and they are going to get him the ball,” Butler said. “They’ve got a good quarterback and players around him. You have to limit his production to make somebody else beat you.”

During the past month, Davis has been thrilled with his teammates’ success and chooses to have a positive spin on his knee injury.

“It’s a blessing. Everything happens for a reason, a humbling experience,” Davis said of the injury. “

“My grandma always tells me, ‘Be patient, stuff might not happen when you want it to happen but you be patient, then it comes when you least expect it.”


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DAVIS READY TO HIT THE FIELD WITH HIS TEAMMATES ON SUNDAY

Posted by Kevin Bowen on October 19, 2012 – 9:27 am

A welcoming sign to Colts fans this week is cornerback Vontae Davis’ name appearing as a full participant in practice the past two days.

Davis has missed the past two games after injuring his ankle late in a Week 3 loss to the Jaguars.

Last week, Davis was active against the Jets but was only going to be used in an emergency situation.

Now after a full week of practice, Davis is ready to get back on the playing field.

“I’m just fortunate to be back with my teammates and getting back in and learning the defense, trying to make plays,” Davis said.

“I’m taking it one day at a time. Just trying to get better as a player, help my teammates win. But I’m feeling pretty good and as it gets closer to the game, I should feel better.”

The Colts secondary has remained in tact without Davis the past few weeks, and the unit ranks third in the NFL allowing 200 yards passing per game.

Davis said he is feeling more comfortable the more he practices and he knows if you aren’t completely healthy, then opposing teams will take advantage.

“You need to be pretty close to (100 percent) (laughing),” Davis said. “Corner is one those positions where you have to be as close to 100 percent as possible.”

“(Wednesday) was the test. It’s getting better. I’ve got a couple of days to stay on it, just try and get ready for Sunday.”

Cornerback Cassius Vaughn has started in place of Davis the past two weeks and has been a part of a Colts secondary that has allowed just 203 yards passing over the team’s last six quarters.

Davis expected to be in the fold, the secondary will by far have the healthiest Colts defensive unit on Sunday.

The Browns have eight different receivers that have caught at least nine passes this season and Davis recognizes the task but believes his teammates are focused in trying to even the Colts record at 3-3.

“Every week, you have to come out and play with a sense of urgency,” Davis said. “Whatever team comes out ready to play, you’ve got to match each team’s intensity. That’s the key, intensity.”

 


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Colts Secondary Leads the Way in Comeback Victory

Posted by Chuck Chapman on October 8, 2012 – 2:52 pm

In the first half, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers carved up the Indianapolis secondary like so many others he’s faced during his stellar NFL career. He had already thrown two touchdowns and guided the Packers to a 21-3 halftime lead. With the Packers getting the ball to start the second half, it appeared that the Colts’ undermanned secondary was ripe for Rodgers to deliver the death blow.

After Rodgers scrambled 12 yards for a first down, it looked like the Packers were ready to do just that. Jerraud Powers had other ideas. On a third down and two, Rodgers called a pass play intended for James Jones who was covered by Powers. Jones ran his route down the right sideline and pulled up ready to bring in one of Rodgers’ patented back-shoulder throws that are virtually impossible to defend. Nobody told Powers that though.

Powers read Jones perfectly and stepped in front of the Rodgers pass for an interception, giving the Colts their first possession of the second half. Andrew Luck would convert the short field into a touchdown, giving the Colts the needed confidence to go on what would be an incredible comeback victory. It all started with the veteran Powers stepping up to make a play when the opportunity came to him.

“Any time you face the Packers, it’s going to be tough,” Powers said after the game. “We knew we were going to have opportunities because they throw it so much. As a corner, that’s what you want, the opportunity to make plays.”

“I was reading the receiver and saw which way he was going to turn. I read the play and the ball was right there.”

One of the reasons Rodgers was picking on Powers was because of the play of Cassius Vaughn, who was making only his fourth NFL start in place of injured starter Vontae Davis. Rodgers went at Vaughn early in the first half, but except for a questionable pass interference penalty, he didn’t find much there when he looked Vaughn’s way.

For Vaughn, he was just happy he acquitted himself well for his teammates and Coach Pagano”

“I was out there for myself and out there for Chuck. All I wanted to do was make sure my teammates and everybody here knew that I could be accountable.”

“I knew they were going to try me early and if I gave them anything, they were going to keep coming after me.”

Vaughn’s performance caused Rodgers to look elsewhere for success. This allowed the front seven time to get to Rodgers, which they did five times overall.

For the game, Rodgers threw for only 243 yards. He had only one score in the second half.

With the Colts secondary banged up and facing one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL, most pundits (including this one) expected the Packers to have their way in the passing game. Jerraud Powers and his fellow defensive backs had other ideas.

 

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.


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VAUGHN PREPARING LIKE HE ALWAYS DOES

Posted by Kevin Bowen on October 3, 2012 – 2:39 pm

For cornerback Cassius Vaughn his preparation for this week won’t be any different from any other he has had in his three NFL seasons.

Despite interim head coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians saying cornerbacks Vontae Davis and Justin King are ‘day-to-day’ and didn’t practice on Wednesday, Vaughn is staying the course.

“Even if they were here, you’ve got to approach it like you are a starter,” Vaughn said. “You’re a professional. You’ve got to prepare every day like you’re going to play because you never know what situation can pop up in a game and you’ve got to be ready for it.”

Vaughn joined the Colts in late May and has played mostly on special teams during the first three games.

He saw action in the secondary late in the fourth quarter against the Jaguars with extended playing time potentially on the horizon this weekend against one of the premiere passing teams in the league.

“They got a great team,” Vaughn said of the Packers. “We’ve watched them on film and they do a lot of unique things. They are very consistent so we just have to go out there and do what we’ve got to do and put these practices together.”

With facing one of the best passing teams in the league, Vaughn is ready for the task the secondary is going up against on Sunday.

Fellow cornerback Jerraud Powers is a four-year starter for the Colts and Vaughn knows with his inexperience (Vaughn has started three games in his career) he might be tested a bit more on Sunday.

You have to accept that challenge and be ready for it. I didn’t come here not to be challenged at all,” Vaughn said.

“I look forward to it because you never know how good you are until you go up against the best and for years they’ve been the best. They’ve got a great group of receivers and quarterback so you got to go out there and be ready.”


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Veterans Cassius Vaughn and Justin King Battle for a Starting Cornerback Spot

Posted by Chuck Chapman on August 6, 2012 – 6:00 pm

With Kevin Thomas in Philadelphia, the starting cornerback slot opposite Jerraud Powers is now wide open. Two of the chief competitors for that spot are two veterans who are hoping that Indianapolis becomes the place where their careers blossomed.

Cassius Vaughn is a competitor. In 2010, he made the Denver Broncos roster despite being undrafted. He made a splash on special teams as a rookie with a kick return for a touchdown. In 2011 he got some time at cornerback and made the most of it, picking off San Diego’s Philip Rivers and returning the ball 55 yards for a score.

A broken fibula sidelined Vaughn for the end of 2011, and stuck behind veteran corners Champ Bailey and Andre Goodman, he became expendable. Now, he hopes to bring his experience from Denver to help a young and rebuilding Colts’ defense.

“Playing behind Champ (Bailey) and Andre Goodman, it was a very limited chance, but I got a lot of experience I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else. I just hope to bring some of that here.”

Vaughn loves his new home in Indianapolis as well as the new opportunity for NFL success. He realizes he’s not the most notable player who switched between Denver and Indianapolis this off season, but he thinks he got a great deal nonetheless.

“I love it here, man. It’s nice…I know we’re both (he and Peyton Manning) happy about our situations. I know I’m very happy about mine.”

Justin King wasn’t so much stuck behind veterans in St. Louis as he was stuck with an injury bug. He missed his entire rookie season in 2008 with a foot injury suffered in preseason. Last season, he was part of a decimated St. Louis secondary that spent more time in the training room than on the field. King was starting for the Rams when a shoulder injury ended his season prematurely in December.

King is also excited about his new opportunity. Originally a fourth round pick in 2008 by St. Louis, the former Penn State star is happy to still be in the Midwest.

“I love Indianapolis. It’s a lot like St. Louis, just more compact.”

King offers some unique insight on Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck as well, having been in St. Louis to see the development of their first overall draft pick in 2010, Sam Bradford.

“There’s a lot of similarities. You know, they’re young and going to make some bad reads, but he (Luck) is ahead of the curve, just like Sam was. He ended up being rookie of the year, so…”

For King, this football camp opens with a heavy heart. Like all Penn State alums, he’s quite shaken over the events at his alma mater over the past year. He said he particularly feels bad for new head coach Bill O’Brien and the “good people who are still there.”

King was held out of practice at the end of last week with a minor hip flexor injury, which King viewed as “precautionary.” He’ll be back on the practice field this week. That’s good news for him as he and Cassius Vaughn figure to be locked in battle for a starting spot at cornerback.

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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.


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Colts Fan Fest: New Albany

Posted by coltschelsea on June 29, 2012 – 12:11 pm

After leaving Princeton Wednesday evening, the crew headed to Evansville to spend the night before an early morning departure to New Albany for our second Fan Fest of the week. We enjoyed a wonderful continental breakfast Thursday morning before filling up the cars with gas and loading the coolers with plenty of Gatorade and water to stay hydrated throughout the day. It’s a good thing we did because temperatures reached above 100 degrees and staying hydrated was crucial. Thanks to the Indiana Blood Center who came out to the event to supply fans with water throughout the day!

Record breaking temperatures couldn’t stop these Colts fans from visiting our Fan Fest. Official “Super Fan” Brent Keane waited in the front of the line to get a few more autographs on his signature-filled football. “I’ve got all sorts of players – past and present – that signed this ball. I’m looking forward to getting a few more,” said Keane.

Even Blue came out to take part in the fun. Dancing around and tossing the football, Blue made sure fans were entertained while they waited. I saw one little Colts fan jumping up and down yelling, “Blue! Blue! Blue!”

Colts fan Emma came to the Fan Fest wearing her favorite Colts jersey and blue hair ribbon with a Colts football in hand. Emma, who turns seven in two days, was most excited to meet the cheerleaders. Her mom and baby brother were also excited to get some autographs from the players because the Colts are “daddy’s favorite team!” I suggested to Mom that a trip to Anderson for training camp later this summer would be an excellent belated birthday present. I hope you can make to camp, Emma!

Jerraud Powers and Cassius Vaughn also braved the heat to meet their fans in New Albany. “These fans spend their hard-earned money to come watch us play during the year so it’s great that we can come to see them at Fan Fests,” said Powers.

“It’s an awesome opportunity for us to connect with our fans. We don’t get to do that often.”

New Albany mayor Jeff Gahann stopped by the Fan Fest to show his appreciation for the Colts coming to the city. “It’s so exciting that you guys are here! Despite the heat, we’re so glad you’re here in New Albany. There’s a lot of Colts fans here in the city!” said Gahann.

Gahann complimented the band, Free Fallin’, that played for fans throughout the event. He also filled us in on some restaurants to stop by on our way out of town. I told him I’d be fine eating at any restaurant as long as there was air conditioning. I’m pretty easy to please.

New Albany resident Kevin Fetz was busy taking photos throughout the event. In fact, he even came early. “I was determined to get here an hour before the Fan Fest. I wanted to make sure I could get autographs! It might be hot out, but I wouldn’t miss it!” said Fetz.

Fortunately, Tiny didn’t melt in the intense heat. In fact, I think he enjoyed looking over the event with a view of the Ohio River in the background. When we finally had packed away the last inflatable, closed the doors on Colts In Motion and dumped the melted ice from the coolers it was tempting not to make a run for it and jump into the river. Instead of running to the river, we jumped in the cars and blasted the AC. This was probably a much better decision in the long run.

New Albany fans, you all are awesome! One fan summed it up perfectly as he was leaving: “It might be warm out, but it’s worth it to be here.” Thanks for making Thursday’s Fan Fest a successful event despite the scorching heat.

Tiny and I will be taking a break from the road next week, but don’t worry, we’ll be in Terre Haute Wednesday, July 11th.  Fans, get ready – I want to see some crazy Colts spirit!


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