Indianapolis Colts Football

Colts sign free agent cornerback Johnny Adams and linebacker Monte Simmons

Posted by coltsindianapolis on August 13, 2013 – 10:59 am

The Indianapolis Colts today signed free agent cornerback Johnny Adams and linebacker Monte Simmons. The team also waived-injured linebackers Justin Hickman and Quinton Spears. If Hickman and Spears clear waivers, they will revert to the Colts’ Injured Reserve list.

Adams, 5-10, 175 pounds, was originally signed by the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent on May 10, 2013 before being waived on August 2. While at Michigan State, he started 39-of-54 career games, finishing with 157 tackles, 35 passes defensed and 11 interceptions. As a senior in 2012, Adams earned First Team All-Big Ten honors by the league’s coaches after starting 12 games, collecting 35 tackles and tying for the team-high with 10 passes defensed and three interceptions.

Simmons, 6-3, 248 pounds, was originally signed to the Colts practice squad on October 23, 2012. He spent the 2011 season on the San Francisco 49ers practice squad after being signed as an undrafted free agent out of Kent State on July 28, 2011. Simmons was then signed as a free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles on March 5, 2012 and was waived on August 30, 2012.

Hickman was originally signed by the Colts as a free agent on February 9, 2012. Last season, he appeared in 12 games and totaled 14 tackles (six solo) and three special teams stops.

Spears was originally signed by the Colts to a reserve/future contract on December 31, 2012 after spending the previous two seasons with the Cleveland Browns. In 2011, Spears played in 13 games and ranked fourth on the team with eight special teams tackles.


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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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ANOTHER LINEBACKER FROM CANADA?

Posted by Kevin Bowen on December 6, 2012 – 12:00 pm

The connection between Canada and the Colts linebacker position has been a unique, but successful one this season.

Leading tackler Jerrell Freeman played the last three seasons in the Canadian Football League and has made the transition nearly flawless as the signal caller for the Colts hybrid 3-4 defense.

Outside linebacker Justin Hickman is also coming off three seasons in the CFL and has been a vital component on the Colts special teams, while providing depth on the edge of the Indianapolis defense.

When Hickman went on injured reserve following a leg injury in the Lions game on Sunday, enter another linebacker with ties north of the border.

Jamaal Westerman played his high school football in Ontario and now joins the Colts after four seasons in the NFL.

“I’m just coming in and trying to be a professional, kind of lean on the other guys for things like the playbook and even just finding my way around the locker room and the facility,” Westerman said. “Just come in and be a professional and do what I need to do and what the coaches expect and ask of me.”

If Westerman carries out a similar role to what Hickman provided than he will see ample time on special teams while joining Jerry Hughes as a reserve outside linebacker.

“I think I can go out there and play special teams. I’ve played them before. I can go out and rush the passer,” Westerman said. “I’m getting a little bit familiar with the defense because (there are) some things I’ve done in the past. Wherever they want to put me, just be a professional and execute on Sundays.”

Westerman played five games for the Arizona Cardinals this season after three years with the New York Jets. Last season with the Jets, Westerman played every game (starting three) and racked up 3.5 sacks.

From afar, Westerman is more than intrigued to be joining a team in the middle of a playoff hunt.

“I was definitely impressed by just a very strong team,” Westerman said. “Coach (Pagano) hasn’t been here but guys have pulled together, banded together and it just shows the character and integrity of the guys in the locker room. Sometimes those situations teams do fall apart and get pulled in different directions but it looks like from the outside that these guys really banded together and really pulled each other up and they’re playing for something bigger this year.”


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SPILLER’S HOME RUN ABILITY HAS COLTS DEFENDERS ON NOTICE

Posted by Kevin Bowen on November 23, 2012 – 8:48 am

When C.J. Spiller touches the football on Sunday, Colts defenders know what how quickly the speedy Bills running back can change the course of a game.

A dual-threat back, Spiller is averaging 7.6 yards per touch on offense this season and leads the league with 6.6 yards per carry.

“I think he definitely falls into that category of shifty, speed, acceleration, 0-100 type guy,” Colts outside linebacker Justin Hickman said. “He poses a lot of problems. We are going to have to gang tackle and wrap him up.”

Spiller’s 109 carries for 723 yards makes up his 6.6 yards per carry average but he also has 31 catches for 336 yards on the season.

Colts interim head coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians called the Bills the best screen team in the NFL and Spiller is major component of Buffalo’s success in that area.

Hickman called Spiller a ‘home run threat’ at any time and defensive tackle Josh Chapman is impressed by the Bills running back’s ability to reverse fields.

“(Spiller) hits the gaps and makes the right reads,” Chapman said. “He’s one of those guys you have to play your gap and do your job because he can cut back into the gap and cut it across the field and make a big play.”

In his three seasons in the NFL, Spiller has set a Bills franchise record with 5.40 yards per carry (290 rushes for 1,567 yards).

Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was extremely complimentary of his running back and knows that if the Bills offense wants to become more consistent than Spiller must continue to get his hands on the football.

“If you get him (Spiller) out in space, he does a great job of setting up blocks. A lot of times guys will feel like they have an angle on him to take him down on the sideline and he will quickly prove to them that they do not,” Fitzpatrick said.

“I think the biggest thing with him is speed. He has so much confidence. That is the biggest thing I have seen in terms of his growth in the last few years.”

 


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PATRIOTS RANK AMONG LEAGUE’S BEST OFFENESES THANKS TO A PAIR OF TIGHT ENDS

Posted by Kevin Bowen on November 14, 2012 – 3:18 pm

Over the past few seasons, the tight end position in the NFL has been ever evolving.

With offenses in the NFL continuing to move the ball more frequently through the air, the chance to find mismatches in the passing game is something every offensive coordinator is searching for each week.

Tight ends around the league have seen a direct correlation to that and the New England Patriots have been very active in targeting their own in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

The tight end duo set NFL records last year combining for 169 catches and 2,237 receiving yards between them.

Colts tight end Weslye Saunders is the same age (23) as Gronkowski and Hernandez and has been a close observer of their talents.

“Obviously I’ve been following those guys since high school, since we came out the same years. They are two great players and our defense is going to have to worry about them,” Saunders said.

Gronkowski has been a constant threat in the red zone for the Patriots, with 36 touchdown catches since the beginning of the 2010 season.

“Tom (Brady) just puts it up to (Gronkowski) and allows him to use his frame and ability to go get the ball,” outside linebacker Justin Hickman said. “He causes mismatch problems with his size, speed. He does a good job using his body to get open in his breaks.”

Colts interim head coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians wouldn’t divulge any game planning Indianapolis is planning for Gronkowski this weekend and knows the difficultly of limiting the touches for someone with that frame and quickness.

I think he’s the biggest and fastest (tight end) that’s come along in a while,” Arians said of Gronkowski. “I don’t think it’s a surprise because coming out of college, if his back held up you knew he was going to be an outstanding player. He was an outstanding blocker and he could run and catch.”

Hernandez has battled an ankle injury over the last couple of weeks and hasn’t played since the Patriots 29-26 win over the Jets on Oct. 21.

While his status for this weekend remains in questions, Arians has seen the Patriots remain among the league’s most potent offenses thanks to a pair of tight ends leading the production.

“I think they’ve streamlined and changed what they’ve done over the last two or three years because of Aaron Hernandez and Gronkowski,” Arians said of the Patriots.

“I remember playing them when they were nothing but three wideouts out on the field and a tight end, and he was just out there. They’ve evolved because they do a fanatics job of adapting to their personnel. They obviously have wanted to have that style so they’ve stockpiled tight ends and that’s what they do.”


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Halftime Adjustments on Defense Spur Colts to Victory.

Posted by Chuck Chapman on November 5, 2012 – 9:26 am

For the Colts, Sunday’s halftime was about more than marching bands. It was a time to make adjustments. Despite holding an edge in total yards and time of possession, the Colts trailed the Miami Dolphins on the scoreboard 17-13 when they headed to the locker room after the first 30 minutes.

There, said Colts defenders after the game, the Colts coaching staff made some adjustments that were the key to securing the 23-20 victory that sent them to 5-3.

The first half saw the Colts surrender three scoring drives, two that went for Miami touchdowns. A big part of the Dolphins’ first half success was there third down efficiency where they converted three of five times. That allowed Miami to string together their two touchdown drives. The other was a schematic advantage.

The Dolphins offense seemed to have the Colts defense guessing the entire half. Dwight Freeney confirmed that after the game, revealing that the Colts’ defense was “off balance” most of the first half. Several times the Dolphins caught the Colts defense in mismatches where a Colts linebacker was in single coverage against a running back or wide receiver. One such time was the Dolphins first touchdown where running back Charles Clay beat linebacker Pat Angerer for a 31 yard touchdown pass.

To a man, the Colts’ defenders credited their coaches for making the necessary adjustments at the half that would limit the Dolphins to only three second half points. Angerer admitted that he was beaten in coverage, but credited the coaches for making the necessary changes at the half.

“We adjusted and changed it up (coverages). The coaches made some good adjustments and that’s a credit to them. We just did what they told us to do.”

Fellow linebacker Justin Hickman echoed Angerer’s praise for the coaches:

“They’ve done a great job all year making halftime adjustments. The guys in the (press)box are doing a great job. They come in and give us a break down so we can make plays in the second half.”

The difference was night and day. The Dolphins converted only one third down in six second half attempts. Where the Dolphins only had to punt once in the first half, they were forced to punt three times in the second half and turned the ball over on downs on their final possession.

While Cory Redding acknowledge the adjustments made, he also credited his teammates for stepping up and changing their approach in the second half:

“It’s attitude, attitude, attitude. It was us putting our foot down, saying enough is enough and going out and making plays to win the game.”

In particular, Redding was complimentary of his defensive linemates who looked like video game opponents in the first half while Reggie Bush juked his way into the end zone. Redding said their refusal to point fingers and stay together enabled them to stop Bush in the second half. The Dolphins gained only 23 yards on the ground in the second half.

Because the defense made plays and got the Dolphins off the field, Andrew Luck and the offense were able to make enough plays to give the Colts the lead. In the end, that team effort has the Colts heading to Jacksonville on Thursday at 5-3 and very much in the thick of the playoff conversation halfway through the season.

 

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 Coverage Units Rising to the Challenge

Posted by Chuck Chapman on October 26, 2012 – 3:49 pm

The Indianapolis Colts are 3-3 and a big reason behind that record is a group that doesn’t usually get too much attention unless something goes wrong. The Colts coverage teams have been faced with stopping some of the game’s best return men in their six games this season. To this point, they’ve been up to the challenge.

In six games, the Colts have had to deal with Chicago’s Devin Hester, Minnesota’s Percy Harvin, Green Bay’s Randall Cobb, the Jets’ Joe McKnight, and on Sunday, Cleveland’s Josh Cribbs. Each of these return men have produced highlight-reel returns during their career and are a threat to change the game any time they get their hands on the ball.

Not only have none of opposing returners scored on the Colts, but the return units have kept them largely contained, preventing them from changing field position. Indianapolis ranks fourth overall in the NFL in net punting average at 44.4 yards per attempt and tenth overall in yards per return, allowing just 7.5 yards per return. The kickoff return average isn’t as good, ranking in the league’s bottom third, but has yet to yield a score. The longest return allowed thus far was to Randall Cobb of the Packers who returned a kick 50 yards against the Colts in week four. With Pat McAfee booming more than half his kicks deep enough for touchbacks, that relieves the return unit of more pressure.

McAfee raved about his coverage teams after the game yesterday:

“We’ve had quite a lineup of return guys we’ve had to face and our coverage guys have answered the bell every single week.”

McAfee also credited the efforts of new special teams coaches, Marwan Maalouff and Brant Boyer. McAfee says the two have changed the attitude of special teams this season:

“We’re letting people know we’re going to affect the game, not just be a part of it.”

Last year the Colts were last in the NFL in kick coverage, surrendering over 30 yards per return, which often put the defense in a hole with regard to field position. The punt return average thus far this season is allowing almost four full yards fewer than last season.

Special teams player Justin Hickman is one that welcomes the challenge of facing the league’s best each week:

“I think it helps you focus when you know you’re going into a week when you know they have an explosive guy back there who can take it to the house on every touch. You know every kickoff, every punt, they’re going to bring it out because they want to get something done.”

The Colts have been outstanding at limiting those opportunities for their opponents which has translated into longer fields for their opponents, which in turn helps the defense.

The coverage units won’t get a rest next week when they face Tennessee’s Darius Reynaud. The Titans’ rookie is averaging over 26 yards per kick return and already has taken one 105 yards for a score. For Justin Hickman and the rest of the Colts coverage teams, it will be just another day at the office.

 

 

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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BRAZILL DELIVERS WHEN HIS NUMBER IS CALLED

Posted by Kevin Bowen on October 23, 2012 – 8:42 am

LaVon Brazill wasn’t expecting to hear his name get called.

With 4:28 left in the fourth quarter on Sunday, the Colts punted and stopped Pro Bowl returner Josh Cribbs for a four-yard gain.

However, a holding penalty forced a tired punt coverage group to have to head back down the field in hopes of neutralizing Cribbs one more time on Sunday.

As the unit made the trek back to the Indianapolis 19-yard line, Brazill heard his name get called on the sideline.

Brazill is a backup gunner for the Colts but admitted on Monday afternoon that he hasn’t seen a rep on the punt coverage unit in a long time.

Special teams coaches Marwan Maalouf and Brant Boyer inserted Brazill in for a winded Joe Lefeged as the Colts gunner lined up to the right side of the line of scrimmage.

It looked as if the Colts special teams were going to get off the field but now they would have to kick to Cribbs one more time without their special teams leading tackler.

“I was thinking man I’m tired,” linebacker Justin Hickman said on Monday. “We just knew in that situation, with the point we were at in the game, it was probably the biggest play on special teams all day and we just had to bust our (butts) to get down there and make sure (Cribbs) couldn’t bust anything.”

“I was thinking this was a situation where it can come back to bite you in the (butt). You go down and cover it good the first time and then you get a penalty. The second time he normally busts it loose. On TV that’s how you normally see it happen.”

Brazill made sure the Colts punt coverage unit wouldn’t find their way onto any future Cribbs highlight reel.

Prior to the snap, Browns cornerbacks Johnson Bademosi and Joe Haden lined up across from the Colts rookie.

Bademosi eventually slid inside to rush punter Pat McAfee but Haden, an All-Pro cornerback, still shadowed Brazill.

Knowing that Haden was winded from the first punt, Brazill made a move to the outside and immediately found himself barring down on Cribbs with Haden trailing him.

As Cribbs fielded the punt at the Browns 29-yard line, there was Brazill ready to make a vital stop.

“They had me doubled than one of the guys dropped down so my plan was beating (Haden) and go down there was to make up fair catch but Josh Cribbs is a great player so in his eyes he wanted to make a great play,” Brazill said. “I just broke down and wrapped up and held on.”

The Colts defense eventually forced a turnover on downs on the following possession thus preserving the 17-13 victory over the Browns.

McAfee was one of the first of many Colts teammates to congratulate Brazill and appreciates a coverage unit that held one of the league’s finest returners to just two attempts for 12 yards.

“We have an amazing group of gunners. Sergio (Brown) and Joe Lefeged have done amazing but after one rep, it’s all out so Joe was a little gassed,” McAfee said following the game.

“Marwann Maloouf and Brant Boyer decided to put in a fresh guy LaVon Brazill, who has been working all week for his chance. It was his fresh legs and a smart decision to put him in that really affected the game. That was a huge play and Brazill did an amazing job tackling one of the hardest guys in the league to tackle.”


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HICKMAN AND HUGHES STILL IN THE FOLD

Posted by Kevin Bowen on October 12, 2012 – 8:41 am

For almost the entire first three games of the season, Colts outside linebackers Justin Hickman and Jerry Hughes were apart of filling the void missed by Dwight Freeney’s absence.

With the return of Freeney to the lineup against the Packers, those minutes for Hickman and Hughes seemed to be dwindling.

However, life in the NFL is lived on a week-by-week and the loss of outside linebacker Robert Mathis means the duo will continue to play significant roles.

Next man up?

“That’s what coach Pagano has been teaching since day one so I just have to come ready on Sunday,” Hickman said.

The past two games, Hickman has come ready to play contributing five tackles from his outside backer position.

Hughes has been productive as well with 10 tackles on the season including a sack against the Vikings.

The two were able to play more than normal during the regular season as the Colts rested Freeney and Mathis and their combined 21 years of NFL experience.

With the Pro Bowl duo in the lineup against the Packers, the Colts defense sacked Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers five times on Sunday.

“We haven’t had Robert (Mathis) and Dwight (Freeney) out there at the same time except for six plays in the first game, and of course we got them out there in this past game,” defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said. “It’s always a pinch and that’s what the National Football League is. Those backup players have got to step up and they have to perform at a high level and that’s what we’re looking for.”

The scrip has flipped a bit with Hickman and Hughes now opposite Freeney, not Mathis, on Sunday.

Freeney will obviously miss Mathis, who has five sacks in four games this season, against the Jets and he knows that he will need to be a bit more vocal this weekend.

“I think the big thing is just communicating more with the other guy, whoever it is on the opposite side,” Freeney said.

“When Rob’s out there, there is not much that needs to be said. He understands what to do, where to be, we kind of mesh together pretty well. Whoever is going to be on the other side, it’s going to be kind of a rotation deal probably. I’ll probably and communicating a little more.”

Hickman knows the resume of the man missing from the Colts defense on Sunday and he looks at this weekend as simply another opportunity for a 27-year old man who made his NFL debut this season.

“I can’t fill his shoes obviously he’s been doing it for over a decade,” Hickman said. “I’ve got to come in, do my assignments, play hard and try and make some plays.”


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JONES-DREW HAS FRIENDLY MESSAGE FOR BETHEA, HICKMAN

Posted by Kevin Bowen on September 19, 2012 – 2:39 pm

Maurice Jones-Drew had a little fun with a few of his friends on Wednesday afternoon.

Jones-Drew is back in uniform after a tumultuous offseason dealing with a contract dispute and is looking forward to seeing a familiar foe on Sunday. He explained why he decided to end his holdout a few weeks ago.

“I love you guys too much,” Jones-Drew said joking with the Indianapolis media via conference call on Wednesday. “I actually came back for (Antoine) Bethea and he knows why.”

Bethea and Jones-Drew have the same agent and the two Pro Bowl players each had a little fun with each other on Wednesday.

“The whole time I was out, (Bethea) was texting me making sure I was ready,” Jones-Drew said. “We have a great competitive spirit amongst us. That’s my man. It’s always good to go against him.”

“We’ve just become great friends just from on the field, all those battles, all those times you get to run into somebody, you want to get to know him a little bit as you try to make them look bad and vice versa.”

The normally quiet Bethea even had a few words for his friend, who will turn foe for about three hours on Sunday.

“I’m not happy to see him back but I’m happy to see him playing the game that he loves,” Bethea said with a grin.

“We spent some time in the offseason together. We’ll poke fun here and there. I don’t really want to poke too much fun this upcoming week so he can kind of take it easy a little bit. It’s all fun and games.”

The friendship with Bethea isn’t the only one that Jones-Drew has in the Colts locker room.

Outside linebacker Justin Hickman was Jones-Drew’s college roommate at UCLA and was in his wedding this past April and is ready to hit his ‘little’ friend.

“I’m just looking forward to hitting him,” Hickman said of Jones-Drew. “At UCLA, we couldn’t really hit him too much. But now it’ll be fun to get a lick on him.”

The three friends all share the same agent and this offseason spent a little time together.

Some trash talk was exchanged between the trio and Sunday’s meeting will be the first of two contests to decide who can walk their talk.

“It’s funny, every Fourth of July we get together and go out and all I heard was how (Bethea) stood me up on the goal line last year. That was good fuel to the fire (laughing),” Jones-Drew said.

The laughing will be put on the back burner come 1 p.m. on Sunday. Once that final whistle blows on Sunday, you can be sure to find the trio talking on the field.

“I have a lot of history up there. I hang out with a lot of those guys,” Jones-Drew said. “They’re good people off the field. It’s going to be great. It’s another task and it’s another great competitive game for us.”


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