The anticipation of who would be joining the Colts wide receiver corps came to a close late Monday evening.
After tweets and names were thrown around for the last couple of weeks, the mystery has been solved on the new addition to an already dynamic group of wideouts.
Former first-round draft pick Darrius Heyward-Bey is the newest Colt and continues an offseason of additions for a Colts team coming off an 11-5 regular season.
How does this acquisition impact the Colts?
During the 2012 training camp, wide receiver Reggie Wayne called his fellow receiving corps the fastest that he has ever seen during his then 12 seasons in a Colts uniform.
That notion won’t be changing any time soon with the signing of Heyward-Bey.
With Heyward-Bey in the fold, his sub 4.3 40-yard dash speed should fill the role of departing receiver Donnie Avery.
Heyward-Bey provides Colts quarterback Andrew Luck another electric target that simply needs the ball in his hands to showcase the speed that earned him the No. 7 selection in the 2009 NFL Draft.
Besides Avery, the Colts return every other offensive contributor that gained at least 100 yards of offense last season.
At the receiver position, Wayne will once again lead the group. The Pro Bowl receiver is coming off an 106-catch, 1,355-yard season.
T.Y. Hilton finished second among all rookie receivers with 861 receiving yards despite not being selected until the 92nd pick of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Fellow rookie LaVon Brazill, who Wayne called perhaps the fastest of the bunch in 2012, showed flashes of big play potential in his first season.
Colts general manager Ryan Grigson has also mentioned 2012 undrafted free agent Griff Whalen as a player who could see his chances grow in 2013. Whalen spent his rookie season on injured reserve but the Stanford product is now reunited with college offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton.
All these weapons will be at Luck’s disposal in 2013, along with top two rookie tight ends in the NFL (Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener), giving the Colts one of the more versatile air attacks in the league.
Tags: Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener, darrius heyward-bey, donnie avery, dwayne allen, Griff Whalen, LaVon Brazill, Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton
Posted in Colts Blog
The Colts’ receiving corps has taken a new shape. Donnie Avery has joined Kansas City.
Avery came to the Colts last year after recovering from a knee injury that shelved him in 2010 after two productive seasons with St. Louis.
Avery played in eight games with Tennessee in 2011, then joined the Colts last March as an unrestricted free agent.
Avery was signed because of his speed and ability to stretch a defense. He did so very well with the club last year.
Avery ranked second on the club with 60 receptions, while his 781 yards ranked third. His three scoring receptions tied Dwayne Allen, behind T.Y. Hilton (seven) and Reggie Wayne (five).
Avery held a 13.0 average, snaring passes in the first 15 games. Perhaps Avery’s most memorable game came in Detroit when he caught five passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns. It was his 14-yard scoring reception at the gun that helped Indianapolis earn a 35-33 comeback win.
It marked the first time since 1990 the Colts won a game on a last-play touchdown pass.
Avery started 15-of-16 appearances and ranked third on the club with nine receptions of at least 20 yards.
We wish Donnie continued health and success.
Tags: donnie avery, free agency
Posted in Colts Blog
The influx of speed came via the draft and free agency.
As the players, and particularly the wide receivers, trickled into the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center this past offseason there was no denying what they would be bringing to the Colts.
Speed. Speed. And more speed.
“To me, the old adage speed kills is a true statement,” Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said. “No matter how you slice it, speed is something that shows up on film, it shows up throughout the scouting process. It’s one thing that scares the heck out of people.”
There was the signing of free agent Donnie Avery who ran a sub 4.3 40-yard dash in becoming the first wide receiver selected in the 2008 NFL Draft. Avery had a career year in Indianapolis with 60 catches for 781 yards.
The speed movement did not stop in free agency with the Colts drafting a pair of receivers known for stretching the field.
T.Y. Hilton ran a 4.34 40-yard dash at his pro day and his big play ability led to 861 receiving yards and his seven receiving touchdowns topped all rookies.
Fellow rookies LaVon Brazill and Nathan Palmer have also been timed in the 4.4/4.3 range in the 40-yard dash.
When training camp got under away, wide receiver Reggie Wayne was in awe of the speed that he saw in his position group.
Wayne wanted to get a race set up between the speedsters with the 12-year veteran serving as merely an observer.
“Just make sure I’m at the finish line, not in there (the race),” Wayne said with a smile back during training camp.
“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 makes it all fun, guys are out there just acting like they’re in the Olympics.”
During Grigson’s time in Philadelphia, the Eagles were known for their electric playmakers at the skill positions and that attribute has been brought to the Colts.
“When (Chicago wide receiver/kick returner) Devin Hester walks out on the field people get scared,” Grigson said. “People get scared of it’s not because of his size or that he looks mean, it’s because he can flat out fly.”
“And it doesn’t matter how you try to defend it, if you mess up one time it could be six points. If you don’t play to your technique perfectly it’s going to cost you.”
Grigson is hoping that speed costs Colts opponents for years to come.
Tags: donnie avery, LaVon Brazill, Reggie Wayne, ryan grigson, T.Y. Hilton
Posted in Colts Blog
The Colts rookies accounted for all three offensive touchdowns on Sunday afternoon as Indianapolis closed out the 2012 regular season with a 28-16 win over the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium. Here is a closer look at the three touchdown drives.
Fleener’s one-yard touchdown catch
The scene: 0-0, the Colts begin at their own 25-yard line following a 28-yard kick return by Deji Karim to begin the game.
The anatomy of the drive: Thirteen plays, for 75 yards in 7:09. It was perhaps the Colts finest opening drive of the season on Sunday that ate up nearly half of the opening frame.
Key play: With the Colts facing a third-and-three from the Houston 24-yard line, quarterback Andrew Luck went to one of his most reliable targets. Tight end Dwayne Allen hauled in the first down catch and took the reception all the way down to the four-yard line.
The score: The Colts lined up with all three tight ends in the game and linebacker Mario Harvey shifting to the left side of the line of scrimmage prior to the snap. Fleener, who was lined up to the left of offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo, drifted into the end zone at the snap appearing to look for a potential block. The play-action fake to running back Vick Ballard was executed perfectly with Fleener wide open in the back of the end zone and Luck finding him. Fleener broke out Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ dance to celebrate his second career NFL touchdown.
Ballard’s one-yard touchdown run
The scene: Leading 7-6, the Colts took over at the Houston 39-yard line, following Vontae Davis’ first career interception at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The anatomy of the drive: Six plays, for 39 yards in 2:05. The drive included all 39 yards coming from Colts rookies.
Key play: On the second play of the drive, Ballard took a draw behind Castonzo and went 20 yards into the red zone. The draw has been a vital weapon in the Colts rushing attack all season long and Ballard’s run was his longest of the afternoon.
The score: On a first-and-goal from the one-yard line, the Colts come out in the same alignment that they lined up in during the game’s first touchdown. This time Ballard took the handoff and followed the blocks of Castzono, Harvey and Fleener into the end zone for his second career rushing touchdown.
Hilton’s 70-yard touchdown catch
The scene: Leading 21-16, the Colts take over at their own 43-yard line, following Shayne Graham missing a 52-yard field goal.
The anatomy of the drive: Three plays, for 57 yards in 1:51. The drive came after the Colts had just four total yards in the third quarter.
Key play: The key play came on the prior possession when the Texans marched down to the Indianapolis 27-yard line before facing a third-and-four. Schaub dropped back to pass and defensive end Lawrence Guy recorded his first career NFL sack when he took down the Houston quarterback for an eight-yard loss. The sack forced the long field goal attempt that went wide right.
The score: A holding penalty forced a third-and-23 for the Colts from their own 30-yard line. The Colts lined up in a four receiver set with Hilton in the left slot, to the right of Donnie Avery. Luck took the shotgun snap, looked to his right and a subtle pump fake forced Houston safety Quintin Demps to roam towards that side of the field. Luck quickly turned to his left and fired a perfect pass into Hilton’s arms and the speedster did the rest outrunning the Texans secondary for the Colts longest offensive play of the season.
Tags: Andrew Luck, anthony castonzo, Coby Fleener, donnie avery, dwayne allen, Mario Harvey, T.Y. Hilton, vick ballard
Posted in Colts Blog
The Lone Star state will welcome home a few of its own this weekend.
A total of eight players on the Colts active roster will head back to their home state this weekend including a trio that calls Houston their hometown.
Here is a list of the players that will be making the return to Texas as the Colts take on the Houston Texans on Sunday afternoon.
- Donnie Avery WR: The Houston native attended the University of Houston (2003-2008) and went to Hastings High School, which is about 20 minutes southeast of Reliant stadium.
- Andrew Luck, QB: Luck, also a Houston native, went to high school about five miles north of Avery at Stratford High School.
- Teddy Williams, CB: Williams hails from Tyler, which is about three and a half miles north of Houston. Williams attended the University of Texas-San Antonio and by joining the Colts on Oct. 29, is happy that the Texans game fell on the schedule in Week 15.
“I’ve actually got eight tickets for my family coming down from Tyler. My fiancé and son, they are already in Houston so some of her family too.”
- Jerrell Freeman, LB: Freeman attended Mary-Hardin Baylor in his hometown of Waco.
- Kellen Heard, DT: Heard is a native of Wharton, which is about an hour outside of Houston.
- Tony Hills, OT: Hills is one of two members of the Colts who attended the University of Texas (2003-2008). Hills hails from Dallas.
- Cory Redding, DE: Redding was the 1999 USA Today Defensive Player of the Year at North Shore High School in Houston. Redding continued his career at Texas from 2000-2003.
“This is a good game for all my friends and family back home to see me that haven’t got a chance to see me play all year or the past few years. It’s always good to go back home where everybody can see me. I like that. It’s good to see them and it’s good for them to watch me play.”
- Jerry Hughes, OLB: Hughes grew up in Sugar Land Texas which is about 20 minutes southwest of Houston but made the four and a half hour trip north to attend Texas Christian University.
“I think right now I’m at about 30 tickets and counting so it’s always good for my family to kind of come out and see me. They didn’t get a chance to see me in up at college so it’s always good for things like this.”
Tags: Andrew Luck, cory redding, donnie avery, Jerr Hughes, Jerrell Freeman, Kellen Herad, teddy williams, Tony Hills
Posted in Colts Blog
Cassius Vaughn’s interception return for a touchdown gave the Colts their first lead on Sunday afternoon but it was one offensive drive that got the comeback started, and another that gave Indianapolis the lead for good in earning its seventh victory in the last eight games.
Carter’s one-yard touchdown run
The scene: Down 20-7, the Colts take over following halftime at the 20-yard and a Rob Bironas touchback.
The anatomy of the drive: Fourteen plays, for 80 yards in 6:24. After converting just one-of-five third-downs in the first half, the Colts had three of them on the opening drive of the third quarter.
Key play: Reggie Wayne converted two third-downs on the drive but the third-and-11 at the Titans 38-yard line was truly spectacular. Wayne lined up to the right of Andrew Luck as a slot receiver. As Luck escaped pressure and rolled to his right he threw the ball up for Wayne and the 12-year veteran broke free from double coverage and hauled in his 28th third-down reception on the season.
The score: On a third-and-goal from the one-yard line, running back Delone Carter punched it in with offensive lineman Tony Hills in the game as a tackle eligible. The Colts had their three tight ends lined up on the left side of the line of scrimmage and Carter ran behind them for his second one-yard touchdown of the season against the Titans.
Vinatieri’s 53-yard field goal
The scene: Down 23-21, the Colts take over following a Bironas 25-yard field-goal and a touchback, placing the ball at the Indianapolis 20-yard line.
The anatomy of the drive: 10 plays, for 45 yards in 4:05. The drive included the Colts overcoming a second-and-15 and a second-and-10 as Indianapolis converted three first downs in regaining the lead.
Key play: With the Colts facing a second-and-16 from their own 28-yard line, Luck went right back to wide receiver Donnie Avery. On the previous play, Avery couldn’t corral a high pass and took a hit from Titans cornerback Ryan Mouton. Avery got up slowly from the hit but on the next play he went high in the air again to gather an 18-yard reception and keep Indianapolis away from a third-and-15.
The score: Vinatieri’s 53-yard field goal matched his season long and the 39-year old showed he still has plenty of distance left. The kicking game was terrific all afternoon and Vinatieri connected on both of his field goal attempts and is now seven-of-12 on the year from 40+ yards.
Tags: Adam Vinatieri, Andrew Luck, Delone Carter, donnie avery, Reggie Wayne, Tony Hills
Posted in Colts Blog
With 88 catches and 1,156 receiving yards on the season, Reggie Wayne has been the focal point in the Colts passing attack all year long.
Wayne has had at least nine targets in 11 of 12 games this season, yet Andrew Luck’s 503 pass attempts has allowed the rookie quarterback to incorporate several targets at different positions throughout the season.
Behind Wayne is Donnie Avery (49 catches for 675 yards), who is putting career-high numbers in his fifth NFL season while providing numerous ‘chunk’ plays for the Indianapolis offense.
A pair of rookies rank third and fourth on the Colts receiving list this season with T.Y. Hilton among the league’s best rookies with 39 catches for 588 yards and five touchdowns.
Hilton admitted that he’s had a few rookie moments this season but his four 100-yard receiving games tells otherwise.
“It’s very important because we know Reggie is going to get double-teamed, triple-teamed,” Hilton said of his opportunities. “We know we are going to see looks that we haven’t seen before. For us to be in the right spot on timing, we’ve got to be perfect.”
Dwayne Allen has provided a versatile impact in the Colts offense with his 36 catches for 435 yards leading all rookie tight ends.
Allen pointed out two more rookies who made an impact in the win over the Lions that have also benefited from the attention that No. 87 gets on a weekly basis.
“Spreading the ball around it makes it hard on the defense,” Allen said. “You can’t always double-team Reggie or when you do it’s LaVon (Brazill) getting open deep for a touchdown or me catching one in the flats or catching a screen and taking it wherever, or (Coby) Fleener getting a one-on-one matchup.”
“Being able to spread that ball around is definitely what has this offense dangerous late in games because guys can’t double-team and shut down certain players.”
As the Colts head into the final quarter of the season, the depth at the receiver position is beginning to show and perhaps the most important point moving forward is you won’t hear anyone griping for the ball.
“The selflessness of this team, the receivers, that’s really the reason we are able to spread the ball around like we do because if you have one guy that’s harping about getting more balls or needing more touches than that can really bring an offense down but we don’t have guys like that in this offense,” Allen said.
Tags: Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener, donnie avery, dwayne allen, LaVon Brazill, Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton
Posted in Colts Blog
Taking over at the Indianapolis 15-yard line with 4:02 remaining and down by 12 points, the Colts executed two efficient touchdown drives with a pair of timeouts in recording their seventh one-possession victory of the 2012 season.
Brazill’s 42-yard touchdown:
The scene: Down 33-21, the Colts take over following a Detroit punt at their own 15-yard line with 4:02 remaining.
The anatomy of the drive: Eight plays, for 85 yards in 1:23. The drive included quarterback Andrew Luck scrambling for eight yards on a fourth-and-two from the Indianapolis 23-yard line.
Key play: With the Colts facing a third-and-five at the Detroit 49-yard line with 3:12 to play, Luck found running back Vick Ballard for a seven-yard reception. The third down conversion was the first for the Colts in over three quarters and on the next play…
The score: Luck was flushed from the pocket and rolled to his left. As he felt the pressure from his backside, Luck flung the ball into the end zone and found rookie wide receiver LaVon Brazill for the 42-yard touchdown. With the Lions defense focused on a corner pattern towards the sideline for Reggie Wayne, Brazill slipped past the secondary for his first career NFL touchdown.
Avery’s 14-yard touchdown:
The scene: Down 33-28, the Colts take over following a Detroit punt at their own 25-yard line with 1:07 left and no timeouts remaining.
The anatomy of the drive: 11 plays, for 75 yards in 1:07. The drive included Luck carrying the ball twice for 25 yards, including breaking two tackles on his initial rush of nine yards. Then later in the drive, Luck out ran Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to the sideline for a 16-yard gain.
Key play: With the Colts facing a third-and-one at the Indianapolis 34-yard line with 52 seconds remaining, Reggie Wayne lined up in the middle of a trips set to the left. Wayne had a quiet afternoon by his standards, but he found a seam in between a trio of Lions defenders and Luck placed the ball perfectly over two of them into the outstretched arms of Wayne for a 26-yard gain into Lions territory.
The score: With a five wide receiver set, wide receiver Donnie Avery lined up furthest to the left as the Colts faced a fourth-and-10 with three seconds remaining from the Lions 14-yard line. On the snap, Luck rolled to his right and found Avery underneath at the 10-yard line. The speedster turned up field and beat the Lions defenders to the goal line for the Colts first game-winning touchdown as regulation expired since 1990.
Tags: Andrew Luck, donnie avery, LaVon Brazill, Reggie Wayne, vick ballard
Posted in Colts Blog
For the first time in the 2012 season, the Colts offense was unable to score a touchdown on Sunday.
The Colts have scored at least two touchdowns in their first four games but the inability to finish off drives and protect the football limited the Indianapolis offense.
In starting out each half, quarterback Andrew Luck and the Colts offense marched into Jets territory before drives stalled out on what interim head coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians called ‘manageable’ third downs.
-On the opening drive of the game, the Colts reached the Jets 40-yard line before facing a third-and-one. On a play-action pass, Luck appeared to have tight end Dwayne Allen open in the flat but overthrew his fellow rookie.
-The Colts defense forced a three-and-out and the offense was able to take over at its own 41-yard line. After a trio of first downs, the Colts had a third-and-one from the Jets two-yard line. Luck faked a handoff to running back Delone Carter, but threw it just over the outstretched hands of tight end Coby Fleener. The Colts would settle for a 20-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal.
Arians talked on Monday about what he saw from his ‘amped’ up rookie quarterback in missing those two opportunities.
“Just set your feet and throw it, you don’t have to throw those balls on the run. And take a little bit off of it because they’re there,” Arians said.
“The first one just keep moving, draw the defense in too you a little bit more and let Dwayne (Allen) clear it instead of just trying to lob it over his head. The second one same thing, you’ve got time, you don’t have to play at such a fast pace. Slow down and let the play happen.”
Following the Vinatieri field goal, the Jets would outscore the Colts 21-3 the rest of the half in pushing the margin to where a comeback would have to rival the one Indianapolis pulled off in the previous week against Green Bay
-The Colts defense forced an opening half three-and-out, providing the offense a chance to cut into the 21-6 lead. The offense drove to the Jets 43-yard line but on a third-and-three, Luck was under duress and in trying to throw the ball away he was penalized for intentional grounding
-On the following possession, the Colts defense once again forced a Jets three-and-out. Indianapolis drove to the New York 48-yard line but on a third-and-three, Luck’s deep pass intended for wide receiver Donnie Avery fell incomplete.
For the game, the Jets were 5-of-5 in red zone efficiency where as the Colts were 0-of-2.
The four turnovers for the Colts was the focus coming out of Monday’s media session but in looking closer at the game, Arians knows the importance of converting ‘manageable’ third downs.
“We got ourselves in very manageable situations and didn’t make the plays, especially early in the ballgame,” Arians said.
“We’ve been getting ourselves in good third-down situations, between one and five (yards) and that’s probably been the worst scenario to be in. That’s something we have addressed for two weeks and we just have to continue to address it.”
Tags: Andrew Luck, bruce arians, Coby Fleener, donnie avery, dwayne allen
Posted in Colts Blog
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