Indianapolis Colts Football

Week Two Preview: Four thoughts on the Colts defense

Posted by Kevin Bowen on August 3, 2013 – 10:38 pm

With Week One in the books in Anderson, here are four defensive items to look towards in Week Two.

The Colts will practice the next three days before an off day on Wednesday. Things will pick back up Thursday and Friday, with the preseason opener coming on Aug. 11 against the Buffalo Bills.

Josh Chapman’s development-The “900 pound safe” has been very impressive working with the second unit in Week One.

The nose tackle position will undoubtedly need more than one body in 2013 so expect Chapman to play big minutes along with starter Aubrayo Franklin.

It can’t be stated enough how much Chapman truly embraces the role of a 3-4 nose tackle and his presence will go a long way to stopping the run this year.

Bjoern Werner’s role-Werner’s high motor was evident last week and you can see why the Colts valued the German native during April’s NFL Draft.

If he was at any other position, Werner probably would be starting but with Robert Mathis and Erik Walden ahead of him, it looks like the rookie’s role will be primarily on special teams and passing downs this year.

Fans should get frequent looks at Werner coming off the edge this season with the outside linebacker depth allowing the Colts to bring the first round pick along at his own pace.

Can the secondary continue its hot start?-The ball-hawking nature of the Colts secondary has been prevalent in 2013.

The takeaways number of 15 last year is a point of emphasis this season and if Week One is any indication than the Colts defensive backs will be getting their hands on numerous balls.

Vontae Davis and Darius Butler have been particular strong with Greg Toler hoping to rejoin the secondary this week after suffering a concussion on Wednesday.

Return of Antoine Bethea-The Colts Pro Bowl safety has not been in Anderson since Tuesday as he was back home for the birth of his daughter.

Coach Pagano said he expects Bethea back very soon and fans are eager to see No. 41 pair with LaRon Landry at the backend of the defense.

Bethea has been in the Colts starting lineup every game since the 2007 season and getting him back on the practice field will be a welcoming sight for defensive coordinator Greg Manusky.


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Day Five Impressions: Reggie Wayne held in high regard, a windy Thursday afternoon and DHB strong again

Posted by Kevin Bowen on August 1, 2013 – 8:39 pm

The Colts were back over on the practice fields at Anderson University for a shoulder pads and shorts session Thursday afternoon.

Even though the Colts weren’t in full pads, there was still some hooting and hollering from the offensive line during 9-on-9 drills, with that unit dominating a few reps.

Here are three takeaways from day five…

Reggie Wayne-“the consummate pro”: Of Andrew Luck’s first 10 completions on Thursday afternoon, half of those went to Reggie Wayne.

There’s a reason Wayne draws a round of applause for nearly every catch in training camp.

He’s been doing this for now 13 years and Luck spoke glowingly about Wayne following Thursday’s practice.

“Wayne is the consummate professional in my mind,” Luck said. “If I were lucky enough to play as long as he’s played, that’s how I would model my behaviors in the locker room.”

Windy afternoon opens up chances for defense: The windiest practice of the 2013 training camp took place on Thursday afternoon.

Luck got off to a nice start but as the wind picked up, the secondary started to make some plays.

Vontae Davis ran under a deep ball for an interception and he also had a terrific pass deflection in the end zone that stopped a sure fire touchdown for T.Y. Hilton.

Head Coach Chuck Pagano has been pleased with the playmaking ability of his secondary this camp and Thursday’s play strengthened that notion.

Back-to-back good days for DHB: While Wayne hauled in five passes on Thursday, DHB led the receiving corps with six grabs during the afternoon practice.

Pagano said that DHB has had strong practices the past two days and he likes the progression he’s seeing from the new Colts wide receiver.

“(Heyward-Bey) had two back-to-back really good days so I think like anything else, you make a catch here, you make a catch there and yesterday opened with a big play and so I think from there he is just starting to obviously feel more comfortable in the offense terminology-wise, all the play calls, things like that and then he’s making plays whether it is big plays down the field, underneath, so I think from a confidence standpoint, a mental standpoint he is just getting more comfortable and obviously the chemistry is starting to grow between him and (Andrew) Luck.”


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3 Takeaways from Day One: Competition, Griff Whalen and the Secondary among the highlights

Posted by Kevin Bowen on July 28, 2013 – 8:10 pm

The 2013 Colts training camp is underway with the team embarking on a two and a half hour afternoon practice on Sunday.

A crowd of 4,100 fans watched over the Anderson University practice fields with the Colts in shells to start training camp.

Here are three takeaways from Day One…

  1. The “cauldron of competition” is in full swing: Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson spent all offseason wanting competition and that’s exactly what they’ve got with training camp underway.temp2013_0728_TC_1381--nfl_mezz_1280_1024

Across both units, the talent extends well into the Colts’ second units and many of the matchups in training camp will have the coaches attention.

My favorite from day one comes when the receivers and corners got after each other in one-on-one battles.

Watching Reggie Wayne vs. Vontae Davis and Darrius Heyward-Bey vs. Greg Toler was entertaining all afternoon, with each player winning different reps.

There was Wayne’s left-handed snag followed by a Davis pass breakup right in front of the packed bleachers.

Pagano and Grigson will have their hands full trying to trim this roster down to 53 players come September.

  1. Don’t sleep on the Stanford product Griff Whalen: Who led the Colts in receiving during last year’s preseason?

Whalen would be the answer with his 12 catches for 125 yards.

Unfortunately a foot injury sidelined Whalen for his rookie season but the 2012 undrafted free agent is fresh off a productive offseason in his collegiate offense.

Whalen has a chance to get some important reps early on in the season and he made a strong case for that on Sunday afternoon.

What Whalen lacks in size, he makes up for with Spiderman like hands and showed the abilities to rise for several catches in traffic.

  1. The Colts secondary is hungry for turnovers: If you looked purely at the takeaways number of the Colts last season, the playoffs should have been an afterthought.

However, the Colts overcame the third fewest (15) takeaways in the NFL last year.

During the offseason, the secondary spoke up about the need to create more turnovers.

Sunday was proof of that with the highlight of the afternoon coming when Cassius Vaughn had an interception for a touchdown during 11-on-11 work.

Darius Butler also added a pair of interceptions on the afternoon.

Something about LaRon Landry’s presence down the middle of the field that I think will force opposing quarterback’s to look towards the outside patterns in 2013.


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Who is the Colts “most important” player in 2013? It is probably not the name you are thinking

Posted by Kevin Bowen on July 19, 2013 – 8:38 am

On Thursday, NFL.com’s Adam Schein came out with an interesting list of players.

Schein broke down the “most important” player for each team.

Now, when looking at the Colts roster the names Andrew Luck, Reggie Wayne or Robert Mathis were probably the first to pop into Colts fans heads.

If not those, how about Ahmad Bradshaw, Gosder Cherilus, Vontae Davis, or LaRon Landry?

But here was Schein’s criteria…

Now, this isn’t a presentation of the best player on each roster. (In many cases, that would be obvious.) We are diving deeper. We’re identifying the guy who needs to achieve — and overachieve — for the team to reach its potential.

And under those parameters, Schein chose safety Antoine Bethea as the Colts “most important” player heading into 2013.

He’s been an underrated player for a while. Bethea is a very good defensive back, and like the rest of his teammates, he’s now in his second year in Chuck Pagano‘s defense. Bethea’s importance includes leadership, in addition to his playmaking skills.

When breaking down the choice of Bethea you can see Schein’s thinking. First off, the secondary will be incorporating two new starters in 2013 and the unit was not all together until the start of minicamp this offseason. Beteha’s leadership (like Schein mentioned) will be leaned on heavily with a defense that does not have a ton of veterans. Also, for this defense to make a jump into one of the better units in the NFL than one would think the secondary will be apart of some game changing plays in 2013.


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RYAN GRIGSON EXPECTING “GREATNESS” OUT OF VONTAE DAVIS

Posted by Kevin Bowen on June 24, 2013 – 7:30 am

When evaluating the Colts 2013 NFL Draft, the name Vontae Davis must be taken into consideration.

The Colts traded away their second rounder in this year’s draft to acquire Davis and it’s safe to say the move paid off.

After battling injuries in the early part of 2012, Davis averaged over six tackles a game in the month of December and three interceptions to close out the year.

Vontae Davis Final Five 2012 Regular Season Games

Games

Tackles

Interceptions

12/2-@Detroit

6

0

12/9-Tennessee

7

0

12/16-@Houston

9

0

12/23-@Kansas City

4

1

12/30-Houston

5

2

Now, Davis is taking part in his first offseason in Indianapolis and is enjoying his change of scenery.

“It’s a blessing from above,” Davis said of the trade to Indy. “I think I’m here in a better position, not only for myself but for the organization.”

Davis’ talent has always been highly thought of around the NFL and it was a major factor in why he was a first round draft pick out of Illinois in the 2009 draft.

Ryan Grigson knew the price he was giving up when acquiring Davis last August but the Colts GM has no doubt that it was worth giving up such a high draft pick.

“We expect greatness from Vontae,” Grigson said earlier this month.

“Everyone knows what he is capable of. It’s time for him to turn the corner in his career the way his brother (Vernon) did out in San Francisco. We saw glimpses and impressive flashes last year, but we expect him to put it all together this fall.”

During the past month, it’s been the names of Greg Toler and LaRon Landry who have received many of the headlines.

Davis has been strong on his side of the secondary and is ready to build off of his three interceptions in the final two regular season games last year.

“I came in and I had to adjust to learn the defense on the go,” Davis said. “Once I picked it up, I kind of settled in. I’m trying to pick up where I left off.”


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GREG TOLER, A “CHEETAH”, SHOWING OFF HIS LONG WINGSPAN

Posted by Kevin Bowen on June 11, 2013 – 7:30 am

Greg Toler laughed when he heard what animal his position coach, Mike Gillhamer, compared him to last week.

“A cheetah?” Toler said making sure he heard right.

Yes, he was correct.

Gillhamer called Toler a cheetah, thanks to the new cornerback’s aggressive nature when the ball is in the air and his striking ability.

What exactly does that mean to Toler?

“Honestly, coach Gilhamer gives me a lot of credit for playing high level football,” Toler said. “He said he likes my intensity so I think he just likes the way I finish plays, instincts.”

It’s only a matter of times when Colts fans see why Gillhamer is gushing over the presence of Toler on the outside of the Indianapolis secondary.

Numerous times during OTAs, Toler has forced pass breakups and benefits from having an abnormally long wingspan.

“I think it helps me out in my press,” Toler said of his long arms. “When I press I can be a little more patient because my arm length gives me more reaction time where as a shorter guy would have to lunge. I can actually keep my distance with my arms and still make plays on the ball.”

Toler might not have been the headliner of the Colts 2013 free agent class but thanks a strong offseason he has already established himself opposite Vontae Davis.

The Colts secondary has had pieces in and out over the past few years and after a few key additions, it appears the unit has a strong starting corps together for 2013.

That corps includes Toler and the 6-0, 192-pound cornerback is hungry for a season in which the Colts secondary can be counted on to force turnovers.

“In meetings, coach just tell us that as long as we play as a cohesive unit, one guy makes a play then everyone makes a play,” Toler said. “We are just trying to get the camaraderie going and just keep coming one day at a time and trying to get better.”


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COLTS DAILY HEADLINES: JUNE 5TH EDITION

Posted by Kevin Bowen on June 5, 2013 – 8:37 am

Each morning Colts.com will take a look at the top headlines surrounding the Indianapolis Colts from around the globe. What is the local and national media saying about the Colts?

Take a look below at the top five pieces from Wednesday, June 5th.

Austin Collie still seeking an opportunity

By: Paul Kuharsky, ESPN.com

Kuharsky took the USA Today article that was in yesterday’s Colts Daily Headlines and expanded on the Austin Collie piece within his blog.

One interesting tidbit that Kuharsky includes in his blog is some quotes from Collie’s former teammate Peyton Manning.

“I haven’t had to give Austin any advice,” Manning said. “I keep in touch with Austin. He’s actually sent me some video of himself working out and rehabbing. He’s getting healthy. He’s just about getting cleared to work out for teams. Austin is a great friend of mine. I really enjoyed the three years we had playing together.

“He’s had just a string of bad luck when it’s come to injuries. But when he’s healthy, to me, he’s a top-flight receiver, especially in the slot. I think he’ll make a team better if they were to choose him. I think about him and hope — I think he’s getting real close to getting 100 percent healthy with his patella and I wish him all the best.”

Best values: Vontae Davis, J.J. Watt, Brian Cushing

By: Paul Kuharsky, ESPN.com

In this blog, Kuharsky takes a look at three guys that CBS Sports Jason LaCanfora labels from the AFC South as “the best values” in the NFL.

For the Colts, it’s Vontae Davis that cracked the list and the following includes and analysis of Davis who is heading into the final year of his contract at $1.9M.

“When the Colts acquired him, smartly, from Miami, they kept him on his rookie deal. Davis has the size and ability to continue his growth, and in the meantime is a vital part of a Colts team that reached the playoffs last year due in large part to its young talent.”


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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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DAVIS ECSTATIC TO CALL INDIANAPOLIS ‘HOME’

Posted by Kevin Bowen on January 10, 2013 – 9:58 am

Vontae Davis has called Indianapolis home for a little more than four months but could not be happier.

In his fourth NFL season, Davis fought through injuries to play his best football at the end of the year and got his first taste of the playoffs.

“I love it here,” Davis said of Indianapolis. “The fans and everybody in the locker room took me in. Right now I’m excited for next year to be back with the guys and there’s going to be a lot to build on.”

Just prior to the Colts final preseason game, Davis was acquired from the Miami Dolphins in exchange for a second round draft pick.

Davis played his first three seasons with the Dolphins and even though he was not familiar with many faces around the Colts locker room, he quickly felt apart of his new family

“Coming in from Miami, the transition was kind of tough at first trying to get used to everything but I settled in and it became a fun ride,” Davis said.

“Getting to know and getting used to the guys, I felt like I built a relationship with a lot of the guys here.”

As the Colts head into the offseason, they do so without their second round pick but head coach Chuck Pagano has been adamant that you won’t find a players with Davis’ talent at that point come April.

Davis production would back up that statement with him finishing the season with three interceptions in the final two regular season games. He became an extremely sound tackler in open space for the Colts defense.

For the first time in his NFL career, Davis got a taste of something his brother (Vernon Davis of the San Francisco 49ers) has told him all about.

The playoffs is something Davis wants to get used to experiencing and he’s itching to put in the needed time this offseason in order to get back to that atmosphere.

“We had the record we had a lot of guys bought in and worked hard,” Davis said. “You can’t accomplishing nothing without the hard work. We just have to come in and work hard to get where we want to get to next year.”

“This was my first playoff experience and the feeling was just phenomenal. I want to get there and go further next time.”


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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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