Robert Mathis sat at his locker on Monday afternoon and slowly shook his head while staring at the shirt he was about to put on.
In big, bold font the shirt indicated the Colts were chosen No. 32 in NFL power rankings chosen by media members.
Mathis cracked a wry smile when asked if he and his teammates are playing with a ‘chip’ on their shoulder this season.
“We’ll say it’s more than a chip. It’s a whole two-by-four wood block,” Mathis said. “We know what we got in this locker room. We know what we’ve been working hard towards all offseason so it’s time to put it on the field.”
According to many Colts players, those preseason predictions that indicate the Colts as the ‘worst team’ in the NFL is based solely off last season.
Cornerback Jerraud Powers addressed the issue of outside expectations and made it clear that this locker room is strictly focused on 2012.
“We’re not going to talk about what happened last year,” Powers said. “If we went 16-0 last year, we still wouldn’t be talking about that this year. This is a new season, new team, everything is new about the Colts.”
During the offseason, the Colts brought in a trio of veteran offensive lineman to combine with some talented skill positions taken in April’s NFL Draft.
On the other side of the ball, the Colts added players familiar with the new 3-4 hybrid defense to the Pro Bowl defenders already in Indianapolis.
It’s that combination that has the 53 players in the locker room itching to get on the field this Sunday.
“The people in this building believe in what we can do. We know what we have,” safety Antoine Bethea said. “The system that has been brought over has done a tremendous job in the past. Like we’ve been saying as players, if we just grasp onto the concept and buy in, we’ll be fine. As far as the naysayers are saying, you can’t be worried about that.”
The Colts will head into the 2012 season looking to continue an NFL trend that truly epitomizes the parity the league has seen over the last several years.
Since 2003, at least one team has gone from the bottom of their respective divisions the previous season to the top the following year.
Eighteen teams since 2001 have captured division titles the year following finishing fourth in that division.
The Colts are hoping to find their name on that list come January.
“Nobody has given us a chance. Power rankings had us at 32. Somebody else wrote that we would be 1-15,” head coach Chuck Pagano said. “You can just go on down the line. We use it as motivation. I know they are. I know our coaching staff is. We’ve all got something to prove.”
Tags: antoine bethea, chuck pagano, jerraud powers, robert mathis
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He has been a member of the Colts for just over a week but cornerback Vontae Davis will be running out with the first team defense on Sunday.
As a former defensive backs coach, head coach Chuck Pagano has observed his former position closely this offseason and likes what he sees in his newest addition.
“He’s doing really well,” Pagano said of Davis. “He’s spending extra time with his position coaches and putting the time in obviously.”
“I could tell just by sitting back and watching, he’s not making mental (mistakes), and you can see his athleticism out there and his playmaking ability. That’s only going to get better as he becomes more comfortable in the system, with the terminology.”
Davis brings a wealth of young talent to the secondary and his fellow defensive backs like the progress he has made in just over a week.
“For him, it’s just getting comfortable with what we’re doing. Pretty much right now he’s getting there,” safety Antoine Bethea said. “Of course, a couple more days of practice and he’ll be there but when we’re out there on the field, I got confidence in all my guys.”
One advantage that Davis has had in learning the Colts defense is his familiarity with the system.
Former Dolphins defensive coordinator Mike Nolan (2010-2011) overlapped two seasons in San Francisco (2007-2008) with current Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky.
Being able to be ready for the season opener from a physical standpoint for Davis wasn’t the question when he arrived in Indianapolis early last week.
It was his ability to handle new calls that presented the biggest challenge.
“He’s grasped onto the system well for the past week or so that he’s been here,” cornerback Jerraud Powers said. “It’s kind of easy for him because he was in a similar system with the defensive coordinator in Miami.”
Now with Davis opposite Powers, the Colts starting secondary has four players each with four years of NFL experience, with all having started at least 14 games over their respective careers.
The trade comes at an opportune time for the Colts as they will face a very talented Bears receiving crops in the season opener.
“Vontae is a hell of a football player and he’s going to come out and help us out a lot,” Powers said. “I think we got a good group in the secondary. He’s just another dimension, another playmaker added onto this defense.”
Tags: antoine bethea, chuck pagano, jerraud powers, Vontae Davis
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If the sweat dripping down Cory Redding’s face on Monday afternoon was indication, No. 90 is ready to go this Sunday.
“I feel great. I really do,” Redding said. “I put in two-and-a-half good weeks of work, focused on getting right, keeping my weight down, running, strengthening my leg and not just my leg but my body and my mind. I feel rejuvenated, feel fresh and I’m ready to go.”
The Colts are expected to get their new defensive end in the lineup on Sunday as Redding has battled elbow and knee injuries for most of the preseason.
“Cory did some movement stuff on his own, did some bag work early in practice,” head coach Chuck Pagano said on Monday. “(We) held him out (of the team portion) and he’ll do individual Wednesday and then he’ll get reps in each of the defensive periods that we have. So he’s looking good.”
Redding missed the preseason opener with an elbow injury but returned to the lineup the following week against the Steelers.
The 10-year veteran feels as though his body is now fully healed and ready for another 16-game NFL season.
“You take the blanks out of the gun now and put real ones in there,” Redding said of the season opener. “This is for all the marbles. This is what we play for. This is what we practice (for), what we train (for) since April 15th. It’s all about going out there and getting it done. The first step is Chicago.”
Redding previously played for the Lions, Seahawks and Ravens with injuries never being in question. He has played in at least 15 games in each of the last eight seasons and brings some familiarly of the 3-4 hybrid defense to the defensive front.
As a free agent this past spring, Redding had his choice of NFL teams and chose the Colts for a number of reasons.
Near the top of that list is the opportunity to win, and win now. The last two seasons Redding got his first taste of the playoffs and he and his teammates are ready to dispel any outside expectations that pundits have of this Colts team.
“They’re basing (the expectations) off last year’s record, basing it off last year’s team. That was last year. That’s in the past. We look forward to the future,” Redding said.
“We look forward to what we got going down the road. This (locker) room is electrified by who is in here, playmakers, veterans, the leadership and that’s what we are really, truly happy about. We are taking everything that we established this offseason into the game, ready to go.”
Tags: chuck pagano, cory redding
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