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Posted by Kevin Bowen on April 27, 2013 – 2:41 pm

After the Colts traded their fifth round pick in 2013 to trade up and select T.Y. Hilton, it looked like Indianapolis would have a break during the fifth round this year.

But Ryan Grigson and company got back in the fifth round in 2013 when they traded up to the No. 139 spot to choose defensive tackle Montori Hughes out of Tennessee-Martin.

How does this pick impact the Colts?

The trench picks continue to pour in for the Colts as Indianapolis traded a fourth round pick in 2014 to move into the fifth round and select Hughes.

At 6’4″, 329 pounds, Hughes will line up at the nose tackle position for the Colts and scouts said “the nose guard possesses enough functional strength needed to stop the lead blocker and ball carrier at the line of scrimmage…he has good quickness and short area balance, along with adequate change of direction agility to work his way down the line.”

Hughes has past experience in a 3-4 defense and he said that the Colts told him he will be lining up in the middle at the next level.

Stopping the run is something head coach Chuck Pagano has stressed this offseason and Hughes is another wide-body that can occupy blockers in the middle of a three-man front.

2012 starter Antonio Johnson is gone but the Colts have plenty of options at the starting nose tackle spot.

Veteran free agent addition Aubrayo Franklin joined the Colts in the offseason. Indianapolis returns Martin Tevaseu, who started two games at nose tackle last year.

The Colts are also hoping to have the services of Brandon McKinney and Josh Chapman, both players who missed the entire 2012 season due to knee injuries. McKinney has experience in Pagano’s scheme from their time together in Baltimore, and Chapman should be full-go after the 2012 fifth round pick sat out last year following January 2012 knee surgery.

Franklin is the veteran, Tevaseu is the returnee, McKinney/Chapman are returning to form and now Hughes comprises a group of five nose tackles that provide competition at a position that is so vital in a stout rush defense.

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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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Posted by Kevin Bowen on October 17, 2012 – 9:38 pm

Trying to guess who the Colts will have available in the front seven of the defense on Sunday is like solving a 1,000-piece puzzle.

Inside linebackers Jerrell Freeman and Kavell Conner, defensive end Cory Redding and nose tackle Antonio Johnson are the four players in the front seven who have been in the starting lineup for each of the Colts five games this season.

After those four, it has been a wait and see approach week-to-week for defensive coordinator Greg Manusky.

For the second straight week, the Colts will be without defensive tackle Fili Moala.

Outside linebacker Robert Mathis is hoping to return to the lineup after missing the Jets game with a knee injury.

Redding’s status is up in the air after leaving the Jets game in the first half.

Inside linebacker Pat Angerer is looking to see his first action of the season as a foot injury during the preseason has sidelined the Colts leading tackler from last season.

The Colts are already without nose tackles Brandon McKinney and Martin Tevaseu.

Defensive linemen Ricardo Matthews and Drake Nevis have seen action in every game this season and their health has been critical among a defensive front that has seen its fair share of fronts.

Currently three Colts defensive linemen on the active roster have been in Indianapolis for less than two weeks (defensive end Clifton Geathers was signed on Oct. 3, nose tackle Antonio Dixon was signed on Oct. 9 and defensive end Lawrence Guy was signed on Tuesday).

Offensive coordinator/interim head coach Bruce Arians doesn’t know who will be out there on Sunday, but can’t thank his staff enough for dealing with so many new faces.

“It’s a credit to the coaching staff to do what they’re doing. Our backup defensive line right now has a cumulative after today 10 practices. So, that’s a lot of new.”

“(Defensive line) Coach (Gary) Emanuel is earning his paycheck and he’s doing a heck of a job and we’ll see how it goes. We might get fortunate enough to get a couple guys back and they won’t have to play. But we’ll get ready for them to play and we’ll see how it goes.”

Freeman, the Colts leading tackler, hasn’t been in the NFL for more than a year but even he admitted that it seems like he’s introducing himself on a daily basis.

“New guys coming every day. That’s just the nature of this business,” Freeman said. “People come and go all the time. I just have to do what I can to keep my spot, keep my position.”

The middle of the front seven has remained intact (Johnson, Freeman and Conner) through the first five games but it’s the outside that has needed to be reshuffled.

Outside linebacker Dwight Freeney missed two of the first three games of the season and the Colts are still waiting to get their Pro Bowl duo on the outside together for longer than one game.

Mathis considers himself a fast healer and while he is hoping to play this weekend, he knows whoever is on that active roster must accomplish the task they were brought in to do.

“Whoever’s out there has to do their job. Everybody is here because they are special in some way. If you are on the field, you have to do your job, whether it’s pass rushing, defending passes, or throwing passes. You just have to get the job done.”

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Posted by Kevin Bowen on August 6, 2012 – 9:04 am

With installing a new hybrid 3-4 defense this offseason, head coach Chuck Pagano and his staff made three acquisitions to the unit who were familiar with the scheme.

Defensive end Cory Redding, defensive tackle Brandon McKinney and safety Tom Zbikowski all had experience with the defense and therefore can quicken the learning curve for some of the players who aren’t as accustomed to the system.

Flip over to the other side of the ball and that comfort level with players knowing offensive coordinator Bruce Arians’ offense prior to this offseason didn’t exist during minicamps.

That all changed on June 19, when former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Mewelde Moore signed with the Colts.

“I’ve been with (Bruce Arians) for four years now, well five years now,” Moore said. “He knows how to put us in a position to win. It’s all about us making sure that we do our assignments. So that’s what we’re working on is making sure we’re getting into our details, just making sure we know exactly what we’re doing.”

Moore has been used for a variety of roles in the Steelers backfield the last four years and said he feels more than comfortable in this offense.

“I feel real good about everything and continue to work and put in the time into the playbook. Getting to know it, getting that chemistry and making sure we’re building that camaraderie, doing it in a healthy family type situation,” Moore said.

What Moore does know from years in the offense should help his learning in curve in getting to know his teammates after not being with the Colts during OTAs and minicamp.

It remains to be seen what role the nine-year NFL veteran will play but head coach Chuck Pagano has said before that more than one running back will be counted on during the season.

Getting a rapport with quarterback Andrew Luck has been crucial for Moore this training camp. Luck has earned high praise from his coaches and teammates with his knowledge of the playbook.

Now it’s time for the one who has been in this system the last four years to form a relationship with his quarterback.

“We’re communicating on the field so it’s good that he pretty much knows what’s going on in the playbook already,” Moore said of Luck. “It’s one of those things where we just got to continue to work on doing all the little things and getting better.”

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Posted by Kevin Bowen on August 2, 2012 – 2:56 pm

The relationship goes both ways, coaches getting to know players and players getting to know coaches.

That has been the theme of the offseason for the Indianapolis Colts as virtually a new coaching staff has been paired with a ton of new faces in the locker room.

Over the course of the offseason, the Colts brought in three former Baltimore Ravens who are some of the few Colts players that had previous ties to head coach Chuck Pagano.

Safety Tom Zbikowski had Pagano as a position coach from 2008-2010, and a defensive coordinator in 2011.

He says although Pagano is in a different role this season and has more to deal with, he still sees the same guy.

“He’s still just as personable as he was as a defensive backs coach, as a defensive coordinator. He’s a players’ coach.” Zbikowski said.

“It’s still going to be intense. It’s all about fundamentals, sound football, and playing hard. It’s personal to him and that’s the way it should be.”

Building off that ‘players’ coach’ mentality, it doesn’t matter whether you’re at the top or bottom of the depth chart, Pagano is determined to get to know each and every one of his players.

“(Coach) really gets to know all of his players,” Zbikowski said of Pagano. “From the guys that came from other teams, that was one thing that was brought up on that (other players) might not have had conversations with their other head coach.”

Former Ravens Brandon McKinney and Cory Redding have joined Zbikowski as new Colts.

For the 10-year veteran in Redding, taking a role as a leader in helping his new teammates get to know their new coach is nothing new to him.

Redding spent last season playing under Pagano’s defense and hasn’t seen a bit of change from his new head coach.

“Same guy, same mentality. The approach he’s having with us as a head coach is the exact same approach he took the year he was a defensive coordinator with the Ravens. Straight up, tell it like it is,” Redding said.

The three new defenders are helping their teammates learn a new hybrid 3-4 system that at times might seem a bit foreign.

Helping their new teammates with the X’s and O’s part of the scheme is one thing, but Redding wants to make it clear he is here for all teammates in helping to them get to know their coach on a personal level.

“The guys can react in a certain way, but to have all three voices in the locker room to let the guys know why Chuck said what he said, why Chuck is doing some of the things that he’s doing that kind of eases the guys’ minds,” Redding said.

“Then they’re like ‘OK, we’ll trust the system, we’ll trust you guys, because you have been there, you understand and you all know him, so we’re going to go ahead and trust him.’ And that’s a credit to the guys in the locker room who have been there before us. They’re willing to accept change. Change is great and this one will be great. So as long as everybody gets on board it will be fine.”



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With Colts Interest in Jenkins Still High, Other Options are Available

Posted by coltsindianapolis on June 20, 2012 – 7:16 am regularly features blogs written by one of our fans. This week’s blog was submitted by divineprodigy

The Colts have made it no secret in how much they need a viable starting CB. In order for coach Pagano’s defensive scheme to fire on all cylinders, he needs CBs that can play man coverage. In spite of the huge changes that are taking place within the defense this year, the one area that I am least concerned about is the front seven. Ever since the Colts drafted Freeney and Mathis, I always wondered how effective those two monsters would be if the team had “real” DTs to play with clogging the middle. With the speed both bring off the edge, opposing QBs would counter by either stepping up in the pocket, or doubling them both. With the likes of Kenyatta Dawson, and Eric Foster flanking them in the middle at roughly 260lbs, I couldn’t help but have flashbacks of the old lady in the Wendy’s commercials who went to other burger joints and always asked: “Where’s the beef?” I don’t think QBs who face the Colts this year will have that option with the teams latest additions to the tackle and end positions. Enter DE Corey Redding (6-4 315lbs), DT Josh Chapman (6-1, 316lbs), and NT Brandon Mckinney (6-2, 345lbs) and that adds up to a lot of “Kahuna burgers.” Yes ladies and gentlemen, the days of watching the Colts interior D linemen getting tossed around like rag dolls are over. Have doubts about Freeney being able to be as effective as an OLB vs DE? Think of it this way; As fast as he has been coming out of a 3 point stance, imagine how fast he will be coming out of a standing position with his patented “spin move.” Ditto for Robert Mathis.

The improved play of the front seven will make the play of the secondary better as well. When talking about the secondary, there is one thing we don’t have to worry about, and the that’s abilities of Antoine Bethea & Jerraud Powers. After those two it’s anyone’s guess what we have as far as the secondary is concerned. That being said, I have compiled a short list of possible players the Colts could look at acquiring via trade from teams that appear to be loaded at the CB position:

1. Cowboys

2. Bears,

3. Eagles

4. Bengals

Of the 4 teams listed above, the Cowboys and Eagles to me, provide the most attractive options at the position. The players I had in mind who I feel would be able to make immediate contributions to the defense would be CB Kurtis Marsh (6-1, 197Ilbs), or Cowboys CB Mike Jenkins (5-10 202Ilbs). The Colts haven’t been shy about their interest in Jenkins, but he isn’t the only attractive option from the “Boys” who I think could be available for a trade. Orlando Scandrick (5-10 191Ilbs) is another good player who the Colts should take a look at on the bargaining table especially since Jones has been adamant about not wanting to let go of Jenkins. From the Bengals I like Jason Allen. He has size, athleticism, and speed to play man cvg. Here are Bios on all three CBs:

1)Jason Allen: “Allen was a first-round draft choice (16th overall) by Miami in 2006. He joined Houston during the 2010 season. He had seven interceptions over 23 total regular season games with Houston, tops on the team for that span and also tied for second among all AFC cornerbacks.

In addition to leading the 2011 Texans in interceptions, Allen was third on the team in passes defensed (11) and tied for second in special teams tackles (eight). He started four games and was 10th on the team in tackles (37).”

2)Orlando Scandrick: “The Dallas Cowboys moved up in the fifth round to grab Orlando Scandrick with the 143rd overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, and he has since proven to be worth the move as a valuable contributor in the Dallas secondary and special teams units. The former Boise State standout, who left college after only three years, has served as the nickel cornerback since his rookie season. Scandrick briefly rotated starts with Mike Jenkins for the starting cornerback spot opposite Terence Newman at the beginning of the 2009 season before settling back into the nickel cornerback role. He continues his work to be a staple in the defensive back rotation for the Cowboys.”

3) Curtis Marsh: “Former running back who moved to cornerback in 2009. Senior totals included 45/2/13 when he was a full-time starter. Made four starts as a junior and finished the year with 32/1/5.

Pros: Well-sized and athletic defensive back who is still learning the position. Remains disciplined with assignments, displays the ability to drive to the action out of his plant and possesses a burst of closing speed. Fluid pedaling in reverse, quickly changes direction and plays an aggressive brand of football. Fast up the field defending the run, mixes it up with opponents throughout pass routes, and physically defeats them to defend the throw.

Cons: Displays a poor sense of timing. Not consistent with his defensive back mechanics.”

All in all, with the limited options and resources the Colts have at their disposal, these 3 prospects are about as good as it’s going to get for the near future and deserve a serious look. I still believe that Jenkins is still an option in spite of what Jerry Jones has said given the fact that he tried to move Jenkins before the draft. His hard “stance” on not wanting to trade him is nothing more than a ploy to try and coerce any suitors for his services into making a lopsided deal in favor of the Cowboys. I don’t think Grigs and co will fall for that and will in turn just wait and see Jerry’s tune when training camp roles around. The price tag for Jenkins will depend on the amount of interest he generates from other teams for his services. Training camp is right around the corner boys. The clock is ticking.

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Posted in Fan Feature

Colts Witness Change on the Defensive Line

Posted by coltsindianapolis on May 24, 2012 – 4:04 pm

By Kevin Bowen,

Perhaps no unit on the Colts roster will take on a new look more in 2012 than the defensive line.

Thanks to a new scheme, a trio of new faces and some positional changes along the front, the line has a multitude of options as the Colts make their way through OTAs this offseason.

One of the first moves the Colts made was signing a pair of former Baltimore Ravens defensive linemen in Brandon McKinney and Cory Redding.

“Anytime you’re dealing with guys who have been in the system, they’re comfortable,” defensive line coach Gary Emmanuel said. “They are like an extra coach in the room. They really help as far as their leadership and that’s the biggest thing.”

Meshing with some new faces are a pair of returning defensive linemen who have shown some flexibility in moving along the new three-man front.

Last season Fili Moala and Drake Nevis both played primarily inside on the defensive line but they will be expected to play the end position in 2012.

“Drake and Fili both are progressing,” Emmanuel said. “They are getting better each time out. They are really improving their technique. They do a great job of picking up the scheme and working hard at the scheme to understand it. I’m extremely pleased with what they’re giving us.”

The Colts turned to the draft to add some more depth on the line when they chose their first defensive player during April’s draft in the fifth round by selecting Alabama defensive tackle Josh Chapman.

It remains to be seen when Chapman will hit the playing field as he finished last season playing with a torn ACL while helping the Crimson Tide to the 2012 National Championship, but his ability to play through pain won’t be questioned.

“He’s tough. He’s physical,” Emmanuel said of Chapman. “He’s been coached hard because coach (Nick) Saban does a great job down there with the personnel. We are really excited about Josh and looking for some great things from him.”

With Chapman and the 350-pound McKinney manning the middle the Colts are starting to add the pieces to a system that has found success throughout the league in the past few years.

McKinney had been apart of the Ravens defense since 2008 and says he is hoping to bring some ‘nastiness’ to the new unit along with helping his teammates learn a fresh system.

“It’s one thing to just go out there and pick it up but it’s another thing to actually want to learn and learn the whole system,” McKinney said.

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