Throughout the remainder of training camp, Colts rookie tight end Coby Fleener will sit down for a Q and A twice a week to talk about life in the NFL. The Colts chose the 6-foot-6-inch Fleener with the 34th pick in April’s NFL Draft. Fleener went to Stanford University and was named a first team All-American in 2011, while setting a school record for tight end’s by averaging 19.6 yards a catch.
Coby, your thoughts on being drafted by the Colts, and how you are enjoying your new hometown of Indianapolis:
“I’m excited to be here first and foremost. To have the awesome coaching staff, and the players that they have on this team already, I’m excited to be apart of it. The fans have been awesome and very welcoming. Now, that we have Twitter, and things like that to hear the outpouring of support for the Colts organization and all the nice things that people have said to me is exciting.”
Players all throughout the league use social media, and specifically Twitter, for different purposes. How do you use Twitter and what are some of the advantages of you see with it?
“I think it’s fun. I think it’s an opportunity to connect with people that you may not have gotten to meet or talked to outside of Twitter. So it’s a cool opportunity, as a fan, to be able to interact with a player. It’s a cool opportunity for a player to be able to interact with different fans.”
During some of the Colts OTAs, Fleener had to go back to Stanford to finish up classes he was taking as he is working towards a Master’s Degree in Media Studies. How difficult was it balancing school and a new playbook, especially being away from the football field?
“It was stressful, but I kind of saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I realized if I could just sacrifice now more time, then I think in the end it would be worth it.”
Following mini-camp, the 2012 Colts rookies were able to do some site seeing around the city of Indianapolis. The rookie class went to Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Indianapolis Zoo and St. Elmo Steak House. How was that experience, and do you have a favorite restaurant, or place to see in Indianapolis?
“The experience was awesome just getting to know the area, figuring out some things to do, in a little free time that we do have. I don’t know what my favorite place would be yet. I think I’ll have to experience a little bit more before I declare a favorite place.”
Fleener was a dual-sport athlete at Joilet (Ill.) Catholic Academy. When did you realize during your high school career that you would have to hang up the sneakers and that football would be your future?
“I thought probably up until about the end of my junior year, that basketball would have been the way to go. Bottom line is there are more scholarships available for football. I got better looks for football and went that route.”
In his first three years at Joilet, Fleener was primarily a blocker for a team that relied on the run much more than the pass. However, in his senior season though Fleener caught 34 passes for 706 yards and eight touchdowns. Was it difficult going through the recruiting process without a ton of action in the passing game?
“Fortunately for me during my senior year they passed the ball significantly more than they typically did. It’s always tough to try and deal with recruitment and still maintain your grades.”
After entertaining offers from many Big 12 schools, Fleener committed to Stanford. He visited Palo Alto, California in December of his senior season before committing the following month. What ultimately sold you on Stanford?
“I think partially it was because I want to be the best in everything that I do. I wanted to have the opportunity to get the best education possible. With coach (Jim) Harbaugh coming in he truly believed that we could win a championship there, and we ended up turning a program around that was 1-11 the year before we got there. Obviously we had players like Andrew (Luck), Griff Whalen, that helped contribute to that as well. To have the recruiting that they did have and the quality coaching staff was really an awesome experience.”
Was the balance of academic and athletic excellence at Stanford too good to pass up even though you had to leave family and friends behind half way across the country?
“Absolutely. I think the best way to put it is if you get into Stanford there is no reason you shouldn’t go. Don’t let finances be a factor. They have one of the best financial aid programs in the nation, so it was exciting.”
Stanford has a rich history of sending guys to the NFL and currently has over 25 players on NFL rosters. Did you talk to any former teammates about what life in the NFL is like? What were your expectations coming into your first training camp?
“I talked to Jim Dray a little bit, who’s a tight end for the Arizona Cardinals. I think my expectation is day-by-day, and to work my butt off each day so that we have the best chance of winning.”
Each of the Colts rookies have had to sing a song in front of their teammates as a welcoming to the NFL. Can you tell us what song you sang, and how you would rate your performance compared to your fellow rookies?
“I can’t divulge the song. The team voted that I was in last place as of three nights ago. My feelings aren’t totally crushed but pretty close.”
After picking Fleener in the second round of April’s NFL Draft, the Colts took another tight end in the third round, Clemson’s Dwayne Allen. What were your thoughts when the Colts selected you knowing that offensive coordinator Bruce Arians would be coaching you and the prospect of a multitude of sets with two tight ends?
“It’s awesome. To have (offensive coordinator) coach (Bruce) Arians, to have coach (tight ends coach Alfredo Roberts) Roberts, to have Dwayne (Allen) to have Andrew, it’s unbelievable to me that I was this fortunate to come to this team at this time. I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity.”
Tags: Andrew Luck, bruce arians, Coby Fleener, dwayne allen, Griff Whalen
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When the words ‘position change’ are heard around the 2012 Colts training camp, outside linebackers Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are usually the players being talked about.
The two have garnered the most attention during the offseason for their move to more of a standup position at linebacker.
Inside of that Pro Bowl tandem is Kavell Conner, another defensive starter that is dealing with a position change this offseason.
The switch from outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense to the inside of the hybrid 3-4 defense has taken some time for the third-year pro.
“Definitely not as comfortable as I was (in the 4-3), but like I said it’s the first week of camp so we’re getting there. We will progress every week and just keep working hard.”
The comfort Conner does have in the middle of the 3-4 is playing next to fellow 2010 NFL draftee Pat Angerer.
Conner and Angerer have combined to start 53 of a possible 66 games with the Colts in the past two seasons.
All four linebackers are dealing with some sort of change in position this season and even though Freeney and Mathis are now labeled as linebackers, it’s the ones that played the position last year who are still picking the brains of the ‘new’ guys in their unit.
“I’m actually going to them asking questions,” Conner said of Freeney and Mathis. “Those are guys that you just learn from daily and they’re leaders for our team. They’re great guys.”
In talking with those veterans, Conner knows the time will come when he feels at home in his new position.
The grind of training camp can wear on any player who has to make such a switch but Conner knows in less than a week he will be able to take out that frustration on someone else.
“Looking forward to going into a game and finally getting to hit someone in a different uniform,” Conner said of the Colts’ preseason opener on August 12 against the St. Louis Rams.
Tags: Dwight Freeney, kavell conner, pat angerer, robert mathis
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Fili Moala has seen, and excelled, in this defense before.
During his days at the University of Southern California, Moala was part of a dominant Trojans defense that wrecked havoc throughout the Pac-10.
Having the chance to play in a system that he has thrived in the past, has the four-year veteran anxious to get another season started.
“Similar, really similar to what we ran at SC, same kind of concepts, a lot of movement, just kind of a little more of the exotic side,” Moala said of the hybrid 3-4 defense. “I was excited once I found out this was the type of defense we were going to run and started to get a good grasp of how it was going to be run here.”
The Colts defenders have preached the importance of stopping the run throughout the first week of training camp. Moala falls right in line with his teammates, but he even took it a step further when asked how good this defense could be in 2012.
“I love this new defense. The defense is great, great concepts, great enthusiasm from the coaching staff,” Moala said.
“The players have taken to it and are running with it. I have no doubt that this defense is going to cause a lot of turnovers, get our rushing numbers down and play better team defense so I’m excited for it.”
For the Colts returning players on defense, Moala feels the new hybrid 3-4 system has ‘rejuvenated’ a lot of defenders.
Considering himself one of those ‘rejuvenated’ players, Moala provides the defensive line with some versatility and is ready to get back to the All-American player he was at USC.
“Personally, I feel like I’m improving each and everyday as well as everyone else on the team. I have nothing but good feelings about this defense and where the team is going,” Moala said.
Tags: Fili Moala
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I am deeply saddened by this tragic news. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Reid family. They are a special family led by two extremely strong and loving parents in Coach and his wife Tammy. I ask that the entire Colt’s nation and football fans everywhere lift Coach Reid and his family up in prayer during this difficult time.
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