Indianapolis Colts

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Posted by Kevin Bowen on May 8, 2013 – 8:00 am

The University of Oregon football program carries a storied tradition that has only grown over the past decade.

While the Ducks have soared to national prominence since the turn of the century, the program has 10 conference championships to its name.

Yet back in 2009, there was a 5-10, 205-pound safety doing something that had not been done by any other player in the history of Oregon football.

Freshman John Boyett would lead the Ducks with 90 tackles while filling in for future NFL safety T.J. Ward.

With his 90 tackles, Boyett became the first Oregon freshman to lead the Ducks in tackles since defensive stats were first recorded in 1969.

“John’s a thinker,” Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti said. “His motor is always running. He studies so much film that he feels that he knows what’s going to happen before it happens.”

“You’ve got to love what John brings because he really studies the game, really loves playing, enjoys practice. That’s why I call him a football gym rat, a guy that’s always around, always asking questions, always looking at film, just loves playing.”

Aliotti is beginning his 15th straight season at the helm of the Ducks defense and knows what is missing now that Boyett, a four-year starter, has moved onto the NFL.

The accolades that Boyett accumulated (a two-time All-American resume) speaks for itself but Aliotti provided some light on the type of player that Colts fans might not see from purely a stats standpoint.

“(Boyett) comes to work everyday, to practice, to get better and study. He loves being around it and he’s a fun kid to be around. He might even give Coach (Chuck) Pagano and (Greg) Manusky some defenses to run. He’ll draw up some ‘Boyett blitz,” Aliotti said with a laugh.

Boyett’s senior season was cut short due to knee pain that he played through during the better part of his career in Eugene.

Pagano said following the draft that Boyett’s rehab was pointing in the right direction and the two were able to talk at this year’s NFL Combine.

As a former defensive back, Pagano sees the fire in Boyett that is needed to be a successful member of the secondary

“We had a few minutes in between (formal combine interviews), and this guy just blew us away in about a two-minute interview,” Pagano said of Boyett. “You could tell that this guy was very, very passionate about playing this sport, playing football, and what he could bring to the table.”

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Posted by Kevin Bowen on December 27, 2012 – 4:17 pm

With postseason awards rapidly approaching, the Colts got a pair of nods on Wednesday evening with wide receiver Reggie Wayne and outside linebacker Robert Mathis being named to the Pro Bowl.

For Wayne, the selection is his sixth in the past seven seasons and it’s hard to quantify what he has meant to such a young Colts offense.

“I think one, his knack for showing up in big times,” Colts quarterback Andrew Luck said of what stands out to him about Wayne. “Big moments, he controls them. He’s going to make the catch. He’s going to make the play. He’s going to get the first-down, the touchdown, whatever you need. He’s going to make the big plays.”

At the age of 34, Wayne is 10 years older than nearly half of the Colts starters on offense and coordinator Bruce Arians pointed to what the Pro Bowl receiver has done off the field more than his receiving numbers.

I’ve said it so many times, his leadership ability with the young guys has been outstanding,” Arians said. “The fact that you know he can still perform and play football but what he’s done leadership-wise has gone above and beyond Pro Bowl status with me.”

The selection of Mathis is the fifth straight and comes during a season in which he has eight sacks in 11 games played.

This offseason, the questions were rampant about how Mathis would adjust to the stand up position at linebacker but he has quietly gone about his business while earning another trip to Hawaii.

“It’s amazing a guy like that, that’s played defensive end for as many years as he has, and then transfer him over to two-point stance. It’s kind of like dinosaurs and cavemen,” Manusky said of Mathis.

“The best thing about it was the guy knows football and I’ll tell you he took his job and profession like he was a rookie, a young guy. He was just sucking up as much information as he could. It was just great to see him have success out in the field like he does each and every week.”

While Mathis did smile when asked about the thought of a trip to Hawaii this time of year, he is hoping to have plans when the Pro Bowl is played the week before the Super Bowl.

“It sounds real nice, just the thought of kicking sand and just jumping in some salt water and watching my boys crawl around it,” Mathis said. “A great thought but I’d much rather be down in New Orleans getting ready for the big show.”

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Posted by Kevin Bowen on October 26, 2012 – 8:52 am

The thought of possibly getting some key defenders back in the fold this weekend is a welcomed surprise to Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky.

Especially in the front seven, Manusky’s unit has been searching for bodies the past couple of weeks.

This week at practice, Manusky has added the services of rookie nose tackle Josh Chapman to the middle of the Colts defensive line.

Chapman tore his ACL during his senior season at the University of Alabama but elected to not have surgery until following the season while the Crimson Tide made their run to a second National Title in three years.

With putting off surgery until January, Chapman is just now getting his first taste of on the field action in the NFL.

We finally got a young buck that we drafted to finally get a guy that looks the part,” Manusky said. “He looks good right now. He’s strong, he’s physical, he’s got good feet and he can put pressure in the middle of the pocket.”

The offseason was difficult for Chapman not knowing the exact date he would get back on the practice field.

While his rookie teammates have been showing their talent on the field, it’s been a lot of classroom work for Chapman.

“I’ll tell you the guy actually studies his playbook a lot,” Manusky said of Chapman. “He spends time in it, usually the good ones do.”

It’s that drive away from the field that has Manusky excited about the future for the 316-pound nose tackle.

Back in April’s NFL Draft, the Colts addressed the offensive side of the football with eight of their ten picks. Chapman is the lone rookie defender left and Manusky is anxious to see his talents that helped Alabama to the top rush defense in college football last season.

“From watching the tape, I’m happy as heck we got him when we got him,” Manusky said “Now we’re going to try to build through him and the young guys that we get in the future.”

On Thursday afternoon, Chapman admitted that he was a little sore from his first NFL practice but finally strapping the pads on brought back those championship memories.

“Being out there, being able to put my hand in the grass and making contact with o-linemen just gave me that great feeling again,” Chapman said.

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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 October 4, 2012 – 3:40 pm

Bruce Arians knows what his pedigree is when it comes to coaching football.

Since 1975, Arians has found himself on the offensive side of the football and isn’t going to change that with an expanded role this week.

How many minutes has Arians spent worrying about the Packers offense?

“Five,” he said on Wednesday.

“We’ve got a defensive staff for that. Greg (Manusky) does a great job. When I met with the team (Wednesday) morning, I said, ‘I’m not going to come up here and bulldoze you with this is what the Packers offense can do’. Greg is going to tell you that, what we need to do to win.”

“That wouldn’t change if I was the head coach the whole time, because I would always be calling plays if I was the head coach. I’d probably get out of coaching if I couldn’t call the plays, that’s all the fun.”

Arians has talked about the need for players and coaches not to feel like they need to do too much this week.

His players have caught on to that message and seem locked into the game plan heading into the matchup with Green Bay.

“As long as everybody does that (their own part) at the end of the day, the atmosphere around here remains the same,” defensive end Cory Redding said. “When you start to push or get out of your routine and do something different because of certain situations, that can mess things up.”

Pagano’s coaching background comes on the defensive side of the ball but Redding said that the Colts head coach allows his staff to do what they do best.

“Chuck pretty much comes over to the defensive side of the ball every now and then,” Redding said. “Chuck allows his offensive coordinator, his defensive coordinator, his d-line coach, his coaches to coach. He lets his guys do their jobs on Sunday. I don’t think anything is going to change on the sideline. Everything is going to remain the same.”

From 1983-1988, Arians was the head coach at Temple University which remains his lone head coaching job.

He doesn’t consider himself a head coach this week and he only needs to know one call from the defensive staff.

“When I was the head coach at Temple, Paul Davis was 66 years old and that was my defensive coordinator. I never had to walk on that side,” Arians said.

“I just wanted to know, what was the blitz called when we sent everybody? That’s the only one I want to know now is what’s the blitz called when we send everybody because that’s the only one I’m calling.”

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Posted by Kevin Bowen on September 14, 2012 – 6:09 am

The Colts defense is in the midst of dealing with three of the premiere running backs in the NFL to begin the 2012 season.

Chicago’s Matt Forte, Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson and Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew have made six Pro Bowls over the last three seasons and also happen to be the three backs the Colts face the first three weeks of the season.

Peterson is next up on the Colts agenda and is coming off an impressive 17-carry, 84-yard, two-touchdown performance in Week 1 of the season.

That effort came in his first game back from offseason knee surgery after he tore his ACL and MCL in Week 16 of the 2011 regular season.

“Great running back over the years, a lot of yardage, a lot of carries,” defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said of Peterson. “He’s still a physical runner, good sight lines, still has the speed to take it outside. He had a pretty a good first game and we just got to make sure we corral him and get a lot of hats on him.”

Another game-breaker that has Manusky’s attention this week is do-it-all ‘receiver’ Percy Harvin.

The speedy Harvin lines up at a variety of positions for the Vikings and had six catches for 84 yards to go along with five carries for 20 yards against the Jaguars.

“(Harvin’s) an explosive player that has a lot of speed and quickness,” Manusky said. “He plays all over the field. He plays in the slot. He plays X. He plays Z. He’s in the backfield so we just have to make sure that we corral him as well. Two players, Adrian Peterson and of course (Harvin).

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Posted by Kevin Bowen on August 24, 2012 – 11:21 am

It might still be the month of August, but this week around the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center has had a feel similar to that during the regular season.

Coaches have tried to prepare in a comparable way for Saturday’s preseason game with the Washington Redskins like it was a regular season game.

Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said his unit ‘will open it up a little more’ this week.

“Usually the third preseason game from the players’ perspective, they can see the process of going through first and second down (installments), going through third down, and going through goal line, red zone, short yardage. It’s great for the players to see that,” Manusky said.

The task for Manuksy’s defense for much of the game on Saturday will be trying to contain Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Over the past decade, the NFL has seen more and more dual-threat quarterbacks thrive in the league and many expect ‘RGIII’ to be the next in line.

“When you see players like RGIII, Michael Vick in the preseason, you’ve got to eventually play some of those guys throughout the regular season so it’s good to see what’s good and what’s bad against them,” Manusky said.

The Colts defense has watched some film on Griffin III and Manusky has been impressed with his abilities.

“(Griffin III) can throw the ball and scramble. We have to make sure we cage him in, number one to run, number two to throw,” Manusky said.

Along with trying to neutralize Griffin III, Manusky and his defensive coaches will be looking to which players will ultimately fill out the 53-man roster heading into the regular season.

Manusky was quick to point out while his staff is always looking to help the defensive side of the ball, he knows the importance of the ‘third’ phase of football when it comes to completing an entire roster.

“Special teams is always a big part of it,” Manusky said of final cuts. “If they can play on special teams, we’ll find them a place on defense. You want to build a well-rounded team and special teams is the most important part.”

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