They have combined for 11 Pro Bowls in 21 NFL seasons yet during this past offseason Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis had a decision to make.
Did they want to stay at the positions they had played their entire NFL careers and move to another team? Or did they want to make the transition back to linebacker and continue to play with the organization that drafted them?
“One was a free agent that we had to get re-signed and could have went to another 4-3 team. Dwight’s (Freeney) done enough in this deal. He’s got one year left on his contract,” Pagano said.
“It’s all about the shoe and it’s all about your name. It takes a lifetime to build that up and you can make one bad decision, one bad choice and everything that you’ve done to kind of etch your legacy, those guys have done too much. They’ve got way too much pride and they’ve got way too much integrity to do that so it didn’t shock me.”
That pride to stay with the Colts has helped the defense put together the pieces in place to make a successful 3-4 unit.
Now, as outside linebackers both Freeney and Mathis admitted it was first a little strange standing up at the line of scrimmage.
“Your hand was set and you were ready to go and that you’ve been doing it all of your career. It’s like tying your shoes or riding a bike, you don’t have to think about it,” Freeney said.
Freeney said after the initial two steps following the snap of the ball he feels like he is doing the same thing he did with his hand in the ground.
For the better part of the past decade teams had to occupy No. 93 before every snap but now even he doesn’t know where he will be lining up.
“Now, you don’t know where I’m going to be at. The offensive tackle it’s not easy for him. It creates some hesitation for the offensive tackle too,” Freeney said. “There could be a guy blitzing in that ‘B’ gap so he might not kick out as fast. There’s certain things he has to worry about, not just if I’m getting off the ball the same way.”
Mathis had a productive afternoon practice on Monday as he deflected an attempted pass, which brought some cheers from his defensive teammates.
Both players said the growth between when they first started at linebacker in May and now at training camp has been immense.
“It’s becoming more and more comfortable each day. I’m able to see a lot more than I did back in OTAs, and I’m able to react a lot quicker to it,” Mathis said.
The duo has combined for 186.0 career sacks and 82 forced fumbles during their 21 seasons with the Colts and even Pagano knows where they are at their best.
“We all know what that is and it’s getting after the quarterback. But they fully understand that in order to do that we’ve got to get people into third and longs so we’ve got to play great run defense on first and second in run situations,” Pagano said.
“They’ve adapted extremely well. They both bought in hook, line and sinker and hats off to those guys. That’s just the kind of men that they are.”
Freeney and Mathis might be a little restless Monday evening as they head to bed thinking about their first day in full pads on Tuesday.
Numerous times in Monday’s practice, Colts defenders had to hold up before taking a ball carrier to the ground but come Tuesday, the defense will be ready to go full speed.
“I can’t pass up a hit. He’s got the ball he’s got to get hit,” Mathis said.
Tags: chuck pagano, Dwight Freeney, robert mathis
Posted in Colts Blog
As quarterback Andrew Luck dropped back to pass Monday afternoon he scanned the field to his right and attempted to throw to open tight end Dwayne Allen.
It looked like the pass would be completed before No. 98 came out of his linebacker position and got his hand on it.
Yes, that’s No. 98, outside linebacker Robert Mathis playing with his hand off the ground for the first time in his NFL career.
Mathis said the last time he didn’t play defensive end was as a sophomore in high school.
“Since high school pretty much, so it’s very new uncharted territory for me. But I’m learning it, getting it, and enjoying the process,” Mathis said of the position change.
The learning process involving how to play in coverage and how to play in space is all new to Mathis, but having the repertoire as one of the game’s dominant pass rushers only adds to his arsenal.
“It helps a lot because I know what keys to key, also how to get off the ball and, you know, things of that nature,” Mathis said of playing defensive end. “So it helps to transition, because I have the middle man, per say, you have another linebacker still.”
It’s been a long way coming for Mathis as an ‘undersized’ fifth round draft pick in 2003 out of Alabama A&M.
He now enters his 10th season in the league and is the fourth longest tenured player in a Colts uniform (Dwight Freeney, Justin Snow, and Reggie Wayne).
“It’s a blessing to still be around after 10 years. I don’t take it for granted. You’ve just got to wake up, thank God and go to work,” Mathis said.
Even though Mathis might not seem like the most outspoken voice in the Colts locker room, when he speaks the players listen.
His words were strong on Monday afternoon in letting people know this year’s team is beyond anxious to get on the playing field come September.
“Everybody is hungry and ready to hunt. Everybody is having fun,” Mathis said. “I don’t have rebuilding years in me, only reload. I rebuilt last year. 2-14 was the rebuilding year. New year, new attitude, new defense, new offense, new tune.”
Tags: Andrew Luck, dwayne allen, Dwight Freeney, justin snow, Reggie Wayne, robert mathis
Posted in Colts Blog
A RUNDOWN OF TODAY’S HAPPENINGS AT TRAINING CAMP
Intro: Monday, July 30 is the second day of practice for the Colts at Anderson University. The 2012 training camp will run in Anderson until August 18.
ANDERSON – Another day of training camps is in the book for the Indianapolis Colts after an afternoon practice that included a little fan interaction.
Early on in the afternoon practice, safety Tom Zbikowski noticed a fan in a Steelers uniform sitting in the front row of the bleachers and knew something needed to be done.
Anderson native Zach Simmons, 24, was wearing his Steelers uniform and said he was at practice to watch former Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and running back Mewelde Moore.
However, once coach Chuck Pagano caught a glimpse of his attire a plan was in place to get Simmons some Colts gear.
“It’s kind of our motto, you are either ‘all the way in or all the way out.’ I went over there and he’s a huge (former Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians) Arians fan obviously, and (former Steelers running back) Mewelde Moore,” Pagano said.
“With a little bit of coaxing, and a brand new Andrew Luck jersey, I said ‘look you’ve got to put this jersey on. If you do it you get to stay, and if you don’t we’ve got to escort you out of here.’ He wanted to watch practice and meet Bruce and them after wards so it was a good deal.”
Simmons took in the rest of practice and General Manager Ryan Grigson went over to talk with him before he met the former Steelers after practice.
“I’m trying to get Bruce Arians and Mewelde Moore’s attention,” Simmons said while sporting the new No. 12 ‘Luck jersey’. “I am still kind of in shock but it was pretty cool for my buddies I came with.”
The interaction with Simmons wasn’t the only fan and player exchange during the practice as Reggie Wayne handed a football over to eight-year old, Cody Burris after making a catch near the sideline.
On the playing field, both the offense and the defense had opportunities to make plays and they did that on Monday afternoon.
Quarterback Andrew Luck once again shared the wealth during seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 drills as 10 different Colts caught passes.
Safety Jermale Hines had the lone interception of the afternoon when he picked off quarterback Drew Stanton.
With the offense running a two-minute drill near the end of practice, cornerback Jerraud Powers saved a potential touchdown by knocking down a pass intended for wide receiver Donnie Avery.
Outside linebacker Robert Mathis even got into the action in the pass defense game as he had a pass deflection in coverage.
It has been a whirlwind offseason for Mathis as he re-signed with the Colts and now is learning a new position.
The Pro Bowler has embraced the challenge and is full in with the new Colts mantra.
“Everybody is hungry and ready to hunt. Everybody is having fun,” Mathis said. “You are just having to get the grind out of the way, and that’s camp. So we’re going to do that and then we’ll be on our way.”
Tuesday will bring another round of two-a-days and before the Colts have an off day on Wednesday. They will strap on the pads tomorrow afternoon for the first time this training camp.
It will be a welcoming sight for the fans that attend to see some live hitting and Pagano wanted to make it clear that his staff and the players truly appreciate the support they have gotten in Anderson.
“I’d like to publically thank our fans. I’ve got the upmost respect for the fans and the people of Indiana and this great city of ours. The dog days of two-a-days, the first day is easy but then the second and the third and the fourth day (our players) feed off these (fans). We really thank them for coming out,” Pagano said.
PLAYERS WHO DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN AFTERNOON PRACTICE INCLUDE:
LB-A.J. Edds (knee)
OT-Ben Ijalana (knee)
WR-Griff Whalen (foot)
Monday’s practice was highlighted by a few impressive plays on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Andrew Luck had two beautiful sideline throws to wide receivers Donnie Avery and T.Y. Hilton. On the defensive side of the ball safety Jemale Hines had an interception and near the end of practice cornerback Jerraud Powers broke up a potential touchdown pass intended for Avery.
PLAYER QUOTE OF THE DAY
Quarterback Andrew Luck on whether he has gotten any advice from Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis:
“Absolutely. They’ve been incredibly welcoming and helpful. I know the first day I was here Freeney called me over into, ‘his office’ as he said, over by his locker, and just sort of gave me some heads up on training camp and some things that he’s learned. So I’m very thankful for them going out of their way and trying to help the young, know-it-all rookie out.”
Coach Chuck Pagano on putting on the pads tomorrow afternoon:
“I can’t wait until tomorrow. I told (offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo) tomorrow (we will wear pads), I’ve said it before, where rubber meets the road. Like Bruce (Arians) said he’s tired of soccer. I kind of like soccer but he’s tired of the soccer practice. When you’re in shorts you get to see athleticism. You get to see guys run around. The mental part you get and you understand, but you always say look we’ll find out a lot about everybody when we put the pads on. I’ve got a good idea of what we’re going to see.”
Who holds the Colts record for most consecutive games with an interception and how many games was it?
The team will follow the same practice schedule on Tuesday they had on Sunday and Monday
with the 1:50-4:30 p.m. practice being open to the public.
The weather in Anderson on Monday was a high of 88 degrees as some cloud cover and slight breeze greeted the fans during most of the afternoon practice. The forecast on Tuesday calls for a high of 89 degrees with a 30 percent chance for an afternoon shower.
Monday’s Trivia Question: Who holds the Colts record for most consecutive games with an interception and how many games was it?
Answer: Ray Buchanan with five straight games in 1994. ‘Big Play Ray’ registered five interceptions in Weeks 10-14 and finished the year with eight interceptions, including three being returned for touchdowns.
Tags: Andrew Luck, bruce arians, chuck pagano, donnie avery, Jermale Hines, Jerruad Powers, Mewelde Moore, Reggie Wayne, ryan grigson, T.Y. Hilton
Posted in Colts Blog
Perhaps no two positions share a greater bond on the playing field than that of a center and a quarterback.
That is why when quarterback Andrew Luck broke the huddle during minicamps in June and couldn’t find his longhaired center Sampson Satele, he panicked.
It took the rookie quarterback a second, but he quickly slid over from the guard position back under center to receive the snap from another new Colt in Satele.
‘”Yeah, I actually messed up. I lined up behind the guard I think in one of the OTAs. But with Samson’s hair, how would you mess that up?” Luck said.
Satele comes to the Colts after three years in Oakland, and two years before that in Miami. He has missed just two out of a possible 80 career games played, including starting 74 of those.
The Hawaii native, with his long hair, can be spotted easily on the playing field and he is anxious to man the middle on a fairly new Colts offensive line.
“We got to earn respect. We know that,” Satele said of the line. “(Offensive line coaches Harold Goodwin and Joe Gilbert) Goodie and Joe, we all know that, nobody is going to say we are a dominant o-line until they see it. I’m a believer in being a leader by my actions. My actions show my leadership, just like I play.”
That leadership along the offensive line will be counted on with a core of young players at the Colts skill positions.
Even though Satele and Luck have been together for just a few months, the center has been blown away by what he has seen.
“He’s crazy good. There’s nothing I can teach the man right now. I mean he’s that great,” Satele said of Luck.
The high praise exchanged from the center to his quarterback can be felt the same way when Luck speaks about his new center.
“He’s a very sharp guy,” Luck said of Satele. “You can tell he takes a lot of pride in what he does. It’ll be a lot of fun getting to play behind him, and take snaps from him.”
This offseason, the Colts signed four veteran offensive linemen that have a combined 25 years of NFL experience among them.
In the afternoon practice on Sunday, coach Chuck Pagano was very pleased with the offense’s performance and even though it was just day one, Satele knows for the unit to put up points, those five guys must be cohesive.
“That’s why we play offensive line because we know that if we don’t go, the whole play doesn’t go. We got to protect (Andrew Luck) and open the holes for (running back Donald Brown) Donald or whoever is running the ball,” Satele said.
Posted in Colts Blog
On Saturday evening it was the Colts’ first round pick Andrew Luck’s turn to sing in front of his new teammates.
Fast-forward to Sunday night and his college teammate, second round pick Coby Fleener taking the stage.
Although he wouldn’t reveal what song he sang in front of the team, Fleener was quick to point out that his performance was better than Luck.
“Probably not as bad as Andrew’s, but not as well as I had hoped,” Fleener said.
Fleener’s on the field performance was more on point Sunday as he completed his first two-a-day at an NFL training camp and is happy to be in a scheme that he can definitely relate to from college.
“I think Stanford probably utilizes their tight ends more than any other school in the nation. So I think I’m excited to be part of an offense that really uses their offensive tight ends,” Fleener said.
Fellow tight end and third round pick Dwayne Allen saw a lot of action during Sunday’s afternoon practice as the two rookie tight ends had the benefit of working with Luck at a rookie camp three days prior to reporting to Anderson.
From a scheme standpoint, Fleener is very comfortable with the playbook but even the Stanford graduate admitted it took a while to learn.
“Probably not the easiest offense I’ve learned, but (offensive coordinator) coach Bruce Arians makes things as simple as he can for us while at the same time making it complex enough to make it tough on defenses,” Fleener said.
As Fleener hauled in passes throughout the afternoon practice on Sunday, he couldn’t help but notice some cheers from the crowd in attendance, which he hopes will continue in the fall.
“I think it’s nice to have a little cheering section every once in a while, pick guys up if they make a good play and just lets us know that the team is still well loved around this area,” Fleener said.
Tags: Coby Fleener
Posted in Colts Blog
The chants were about what one would expect as the Colts came onto the practice field Sunday afternoon.
“Reggie, Reggie, Reggie,” rang out from the bleachers in Anderson as wide receiver Reggie Wayne went through warm-ups.
After the popular chant heard in Lucas Oil each home game began to wind down for No. 87, another one slowly started for a group of people not dressed in shoulder pads and jerseys.
“Dungy, Dungy, Dungy.”
Former Colts coach Tony Dungy made a rare appearance at an NFL practice on Sunday as some members of his family joined him.
Dungy came to Anderson on Saturday evening and met with coach Chuck Pagano before watching practice and addressing the team on Sunday.
“This was actually the first practice I’ve seen of anybody since I left. It was fun to see the start of a new era,” Dungy said.
During the special teams part of practice, quarterback Andrew Luck made his way over to the Super Bowl winning coach and the two shared a few words before the rookie went to work in his first day of an NFL training camp.
“I got a chance to meet Andrew (Luck), watch him, see the decisions he’s making and just the command of the huddle and command of the field. They’re going to be in good hands. They’re going to be in good hands for a long time.”
On the roster it might say ‘R’ next to Luck’s name indicating his inexperience playing at the professional level, but Dungy saw none of that youthfulness in the Stanford product.
“I think that’s what impressed me the most, to see the decision making and the lack of any indecisiveness. He looked like a third or fourth year guy in this first practice,” Dungy said.
As Dungy scanned the practice field Sunday afternoon he saw many new faces from when he last coached the Colts in 2008.
He had a chance to catch up with some of the players that helped the Colts capture Super Bowl XLI and believes they are comfortable and ready for a new season.
“It’s a new system for them, but they’re embracing it and looking to be the leaders,” Dungy said. “Again, Reggie (Wayne), Dwight (Freeney), Antoine (Bethea), Robert (Mathis), those are guys you want to follow so they’re going to be in good shape.”
After practice ended on Sunday afternoon, Pagano held his players a little longer on the 50-yard line and it didn’t take long for everyone to figure out who was in the middle of that huddle.
Even though their coaching careers did not cross paths on the same team, Pagano’s respect for Dungy is endless.
“He’s got so much and he’s done so many great things,” Pagano said. “What I told the team–all-time winningist coach in Colts history, every one of his teams here went to the playoffs, 92 wins, won a Super Bowl and more importantly than that it’s what he’s done off the field, and how he is as a man and how he is as a father, and all the lives that he’s impacted.”
The on the field accomplishments Dungy achieved while in Indianapolis speak for themselves but he still plays a major role in a number of organizations in the Circle City still today.
Despite being away from coaching and having few direct ties to the current Colts coaching staff, he still made sure he was in Anderson to help out an organization, and a community, he has already done so much for.
“To be able to address the team and talk to them about, what it means to play football here in Indiana, what it means to have these fans and what they can do to lay their own foundation. It was a pretty special afternoon for me,” Dungy said.
Tags: chuck pagano, Jim Irsay, Tony Dungy
Posted in Colts Blog
Around every NFL training camp this time of year there is a sort of a ritual going around between the veterans and the rookies.
A welcoming to professional football is upon 26 rookies in Anderson over the next few weeks.
The fun-loving started early for the first-year players as quarterback Andrew Luck did his best, or in some people’s opinions worst, impression of John Denver’s ‘Country Roads’ on Saturday evening at a team meeting.
“Yeah it was awful,” Pagano said of Luck’s rendition. “I’m glad he’s not doing that for a living, because the signing wouldn’t have been like the one he got. Great effort though. It was a great effort.”
Luck won’t be the only one taking part in the good-nature ribbing at training camp.
Veterans across the roster have had their fair share of initiation into the NFL and at the end of the day everyone will have a story to tell.
“It’s just another way of bonding,” cornerback Jerraud Powers said. “Rookies are kind of wide-eyed right now, kind of not knowing what to expect. Their first time at training camp, first time in the same room as a Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, you kind of get star shocked a little bit.”
“The rookie traditions and all that stuff kind of humbles them and make everybody feel like they are the same as everybody else after they hear the stories the other guys were sharing.”
In April’s NFL Draft the Colts made 10 selections and with a number of other first year players on the roster, it is almost a certainty that rookies will play a vital role in the regular season.
Entering his fourth season in the league, running back Donald Brown might only be 25 years old but he knows he is looked at as a veteran.
It wasn’t long ago he was the one standing up in front of the veterans for his arrival to the NFL and now he’s the one knowing just how important making those young guys feel a part of the team will help them out in September and beyond.
“It doesn’t matter what happens outside of this facility, as long as we take care of what is inside of here and get better everyday, every meeting, every practice, things will take care of itself,” Brown said.
Tags: Andrew Luck, chuck pagano, donald brown, jerraud powers
Posted in Colts Blog