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Players on the roster bubble talk about their mindset heading into Thursday’s preseason finale

Posted by Kevin Bowen on August 28, 2013 – 6:00 pm

A total of 75 players will take the field Thursday at Paul Brown Stadium.

For those players, the 60 minutes of football will serve as one final audition to see if they will survive the 53-player cut that comes less than 48 hours later.

Here’s a look at five Colts who are sure to see plenty of playing time on Thursday:

Outside linebacker Caesar Rayford

Rayford has become the unsung hero of the 2013 preseason with five sacks. The former Arena Football Leaguer would be continuing his job as a juvenile counselor if he weren’t in opposing NFL backfields week-after-week.

“My mindset is like it doesn’t matter what I did last game. I’m just going to go out and compete like nothing happened, make the best of every play, every opportunity I get. What I did last game doesn’t matter about this game. It’s all about Cincinnati and got to go out there and compete, because those guys, they ain’t worrying about what I did last game. It’s what I do now.”

Quarterback Chandler Harnish

Harnish calls the preseason his “Super Bowl” and that’s especially the case in game No. 4 where the third string quarterback will get more than a bulk of the snaps. Last year, Harnish played three and a half quarters in the preseason finale and led the offense on a pair of touchdown drives, thus earning a roster spot.

“This is a big evaluation for myself. Last year, I had the opportunity to play most of the game and I’m expecting a lot of playing time this year too. I’m just going to go out there play my game, have fun, prepare like I’m a starter and just go out and show my value to this team.”

Safety Delano Howell

In Week One of the preseason, Howell played 89 snaps (99 percent of all defensive snaps) against Buffalo. He led the team in tackles and has continued to impress all preseason long.

“This is the one we’ve been looking forward to for the young guys, for guys that are trying to prove something, trying to claim a spot. There’s going to be a lot of opportunity, a lot of snaps and everything. I know all of us, all the young guys and everything, people that are fighting to earn a spot, they’re all going to be taking advantage of it.”

Inside linebacker Mario Harvey

Harvey turned in a strong performance last week against the Browns and he has fond memories of last year’s preseason finale. Harvey recorded six tackles, two for loss and eventually earned a roster spot.

“Every chance you get on the field is very important because you are fighting for a spot on the team, to feed your family, fighting for your legacy, your name so it’s very important.”

Safety Joe Lefeged

As an undrafted free agent in 2011, Lefeged had seven tackles in the final preseason game and earned a roster spot. Injuries have sidelined the third-year safety for much of training camp but he is expected to be out there on Thursday evening.

“It’s big but you don’t want to think about it too much. You want to focus on your assignment and go out there and have fun. If you think about the result and things you can’t control, that’s when the mistakes happen.”

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Posted by Kevin Bowen on July 1, 2013 – 8:44 am

Each morning will take a look at the top headlines surrounding the Indianapolis Colts from around the globe. What is the local and national media saying about the Colts?

Take a look below at the top five pieces from Monday, July 1st

All-time Indy Colts tight ends: Dallas Clark and Marcus Pollard

By: Mike Chappell, Indianapolis Star

On Chappell’s team, he moves on to the tight end position with a pair of mainstays that have donned the horseshoe over the past 15 years.

Chappell spoke with former Colts head coach Tony Dungy to give his thoughts on the duo.

“Marcus was a very good player,’’ he said. “Dallas Clark was special, a unique guy.

“He was Marcus Pollard (before Pollard joined the NFL); in my mind just a little bit better than Marcus Pollard.’’

Police: Colts safety Joe Lefeged arrested after fleeing from traffic stop, found with unregistered pistol

By: Eric Weddle, Indianapolis Star

It was an unfortunate start to the weekend for Colts safety Joe Lefeged.

The special teams standout was arrested in Washington D.C. late Friday night and here’s a few bits of information from Weddle’s article…

Lefeged is being held without bail pending a preliminary hearing Tuesday.

Lefeged, 25, was in a white Camaro with two other men when police attempted to stop it for driving erratically. After an unspecified chase, he and another passenger, Timothy Wilson, were arrested, said Officer Araz Alali, a D.C. police spokesman. The driver fled on foot and had not been identified, but Alali said police were confident of apprehending him.

A handgun was found in the vehicle, Alali said.

The arrest occurred in northeast Washington on the 4200 block of Blaine Street Northeast at 12:05 a.m. today.

Colts rookie John Boyett still inspired by late sister’s spirit in the face of death

By: Phillip B. Wilson, Indianapolis Star

Wilson wrote a tremendous feature on Colts sixth round draft pick John Boyett and how he remembers his sister who died a little over two years ago.

Danielle Boyett died after a fight that started with a brain tumor at the age of 12.

“I think about her every day,” said John, 23, during a break from May’s rookie mini-camp. “It’s still tough for me.

“The necklace reminds me that I play the game for a greater cause. Yes, I personally want to be successful and help my team win. But me wanting to make my family and sister proud means the most.”

Applause for Colts TE Dwayne Allen

By: Paul Kuharsky, ESPN AFC South Blog

Colts rookie tight end Dwayne Allen spent a portion of last week at the NFL rookie symposium.

Kuharsky found these words from Allen (through Rick Maese of the Washington Post) where he addressed the issue of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez.

“A lot of people are afraid of the words, ‘Oh man, you different,’” Allen said. “You damn right I’m different. You damn right I’m different. I got a lot more money in my pocket, and a lot more sense. That’s the way you got to go about it.

“If you just turn on your TV to ESPN, this is a brotherhood. This is a brotherhood. One of our brothers in trouble right now. It really hurts me, man. But one of our brothers is in trouble right now because he didn’t want to be different. You got to make a choice right now. …You’re not the same dude you was when you grew up. You different now. That doesn’t mean you can’t hang out with your boys, do things you used to do with your boys. You still do those, but you got to be smart about it, smart about your decisions, man.”

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Posted by Kevin Bowen on May 23, 2013 – 7:40 am

The Colts secondary currently has 17 members.

Of those 17, just one was with the team prior to the 2012 season.

Antoine Bethea is the mainstay and his 107 games of experience in a Colts uniform is almost half of the total number the rest of the secondary carries with them into 2013.

Player Games Played in Indianapolis
S-Antoine Bethea 107
S-Joe Lefeged 32
CB-Cassius Vaughn 16
S-Sergio Brown 16
CB-Josh Gordy 15
CB-Darius Butler 11
CB-Vontae Davis 10
CB-Teddy Williams 7
S-Delano Howell 6

This is season No. 8 for Bethea and while OTAs for some veterans might not seem like a drag, the Pro Bowl safety remembers his days as a youthful defensive back trying to make the roster.

“At one point, you were that young guy and you never really want to be that guy walking around the locker room, never really saying anything to you, feeling like a loner,” Bethea said. “So most definitely you’ve got to pull those guys closer and show them the ropes.”

Bethea was one of the loudest voices on the practice field on Wednesday as the unit attempts to gel in year two of a new defensive system.

The secondary was very active on Wednesday afternoon with numerous pass breakups and a pair of interceptions.

To many Colts fans the names in the secondary are still a bit foreign but ask Bethea, and the system is beginning to sound familiar with a year of experience.

“This time last year my head was spinning in circles but this year right now, I feel a lot more comfortable to really just go out there, make plays and use my athletic ability,” Bethea said.

“We are talking a lot more, very vocal and that’s a good thing.”

Back in 2006, there was Bethea as a rookie starting safety helping the Colts capture Super Bowl XLI.

Now he stands in the secondary as the elder statesmen, by a wide margin, and it’s the hunger he sees in the guys around him that has the No. 41 striving to get back to the game’s pinnacle.

“We’ve got some young guys that are ready to step in and help this team, so I’m excited,” Bethea said. “I’m pretty sure they’re excited. I’m sure it’s overwhelming right now with everything that the coaches are throwing at them but they are doing a good job.”

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Posted by Kevin Bowen on April 17, 2013 – 4:17 pm

Nearly all of the Colts players have returned to the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center and while the conditioning and learning of new faces/schemes dominated the news on Wednesday afternoon, a few players offered what they did during their time away.

Center Samson Satele

Satele went back to his home state of Hawaii and took a trip to the wilderness to do some hiking with his wife.

“We did three hikes in Hawaii. It’s fun. As soon as you get to the top, it all pays off because then you get the view. I’ve lived there my entire life but this was my first time I ever went hiking.”

Safety Joe Lefeged

Growing up in colder climates his entire life, Lefeged got away from an unfriendly winter and ventured down to the Bahamas.

“It was my first time out of the states and the weather was beautiful. Coming from the Indiana weather and then back to the Maryland weather, the winters are pretty rough so getting away a bit felt good.”

Inside Linebacker Pat Angerer

A foot injury kept Angerer in Indianapolis for the offseason but the fourth-year linebacker made the most of his time at home with his one-and-a-half-year-old son, Cael.

“I was here all offseason just hanging with my boy. I think that’s the best part about this sport. You have three months off just to spend time off with your son, your wife and your family. I’m very lucky and fortunate to have that.”

Tight End Dwayne Allen

Allen had little time to rest after a record-setting rookie campaign. The former Clemson tight end has been bouncing around between Indiana and South Carolina trying to finish up his final 13 credits.

“I’m actually going back this weekend so I’m going to miss a couple days next week, but it’s one of my priorities this offseason to get that degree. It is tough because you try your hardest to stay up on your academics and also on your training so you don’t lose your job. But I set my graduating as a priority this offseason so it was important to me.”

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Posted by Kevin Bowen on January 23, 2013 – 12:31 pm

When Ryan Grigson is building the backend of his 53-man roster, he is looking in particular at one specific unit.

Special teams was a priority that Colts Owner Jim Irsay pointed out to when hiring a new general manager and head coach a year ago this month.

Back during the summer, Grigson said that putting together a formidable special teams unit was something he ‘strived’ for and that was evident with its success this season.

“There’s an alert that’s next to the grade on the back end of the grade and it’s an alert that shows the player that has the makeup to be a core special teamer,” Grigson said in evaluating his roster.

“We really feel strongly about that part of the team.”

In the return game, the Colts broke a pair of touchdowns in the second half of the season and seem to have found an electric punt returner in T.Y. Hilton.

The big play ability of Hilton was a focal point offensively, but that trait also carries over to the return game.

“In terms of the draft I think we showed that by trading up to get T.Y. (Hilton),” Grigson said of the team’s diligence to address special teams.

“Without explosive returners how are you going to have great special teams? You can open up lanes and you can do this or that but you have to have explosive athletes that aren’t going to get caught.”

While Hilton began to receive a lot of attention near the end of the season, Grigson also wanted to point out the Colts punt coverage unit that included gunner Joe Lefeged.

Despite having to slide over to punt protector late in the season, due to an injury to safety Tom Zbikowski, Lefeged still led the team with 16 special teams tackles.

“He’s what you want in a core special teamer,” Grigson said of Lefeged. “He’s an eager beaver, he’s very confident, he makes plays, his motor doesn’t stop and he runs a 4.4 and he’s got good football intelligence, so he’s got a lot going for him.”

Along with Lefeged, gunner Sergio Brown (10 special teams tackles) excelled on the punt coverage unit.

Grigson feels that new special teams coach Tom McMahon has the pieces in place to build a strong special teams unit with plenty of depth for years to come.

“We want this thing to be a battle for them for starting spots,” Grigson said. “Chuck (Pagano) and I want there to be a spirit of competition in training camp like no other because it brings the best out of all of us, it really does. We’ll continue to do that every year no matter how deep this roster gets.”

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Posted by Kevin Bowen on January 8, 2013 – 9:07 am

As Antoine Bethea gathered the final few belonging in his locker on Monday morning he pondered the inevitable feeling he will have in the coming days.

“Obviously you know the next week or so you’ll get some well needed rest but then after that, you’re going crazy because you’re so used to everything day in and day out and what you have to get done,” Bethea said.

This wasn’t the ‘Victory Monday’ that Bethea had gotten use to over the final two months of the season.

Instead, Bethea and his teammates were left to reflect on those memories in trying to piece together how significant of a jump the team made from last year.

“Obviously we wanted to come in here today, get another workout and get ready for Saturday or Sunday,” Bethea said.

“But just coming off of last year 2-14 and the new look of the organization, there’s a lot of new faces, and what we were able to get accomplished this year with the different situation that we were forced with. I think it just shows a lot of what we have on this team, the type of guys we have that care about the guys we have on this team. I’m really looking forward to this offseason and next year.”

Bethea was the lone mainstay in an injury riddled Colts secondary this year by starting all 16 games.

The safety position next to Bethea saw Tom Zbikowski and Joe Lefeged each start,

Flaking Bethea at the cornerback spot were four different cornerbacks that started at least three games this year.

With the entire secondary under the age of 28, Bethea is anxious for an offseason with the defensive system in place and stability in the back end of the defense.

“With the coaching staff that came in and the new guys mixed with the vets, man, we have something special here and I just think next year will be even better,” Bethea said.

“You’ll have some new guys, some guys leave or whatever but it’s not going to be like it was last year with a lot of people leaving, a lot of people coming in. We feel we have the nucleus here now and we just have to build on that.”


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Posted by Kevin Bowen on December 7, 2012 – 11:08 am

With safety Tom Zbikowski out of the lineup last week against the Lions, the domino effect of the ‘next man up’ extended past backup Joe Lefeged.

Filling in at the safety spot was Lefeged but instead of being in his normal gunner spot on the punt coverage unit, he had to slide over to the punt protector, a position that normally Zbikowski occupies.

Those moves opened the door for Teddy Williams at the gunner position, a man who never played a down of college football.

On Sunday, Williams found himself beating the rest of the punt coverage unit down the field and helped forced four fair catches against the Lions.

“He did a great job as a gunner in his first extended duty on special teams. I think this guy has a nice future,” interim head coach Bruce Arians said. “He’s long. He’s a good bump and run corner and he’s just got to keep learning techniques and our scheme and he’ll be able to help us out.”

Williams was a track star in college as a four-time All-American at the University of Texas-San Antonio.

An undrafted free agent in 2010, Williams spent the majority of the last two seasons on the Dallas Cowboys practice squad.

The Colts signed Williams on Oct. 29 and he has played on special teams in each of the past three games.

With Zbikowski again out of the lineup this weekend, Williams is expected to flank Sergio Brown on the opposite side of the punt coverage unit.

“As the gunner you’re the first one on defense on punt so you got to get down and contain the returner and just try to be just as disruptive as possible,” Williams said.

Listed as a cornerback, Williams continues to get reps in the secondary at practice on a weekly basis and knows that there is a process to becoming a contributor on the defensive side of the ball in the NFL.

“Most of the time you work your way up the totem pole, special teams first and then when you get your chance on defense you just have to take the opportunity,” Williams said. “I just learn form the older guys and work as much on my craft and technique to be able to get better.”

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Posted by Kevin Bowen on December 6, 2012 – 5:42 pm

When Bruce Arians announced earlier this week six Colts captains for the rest of the regular season, some of the names could have gone without saying.

Luck, Wayne, Mathis….Lefeged.

Special teams ace Joe Lefeged was a bit caught off guard earlier in the week when a hoard of media surrounded his locker wanting to talk to the Colts safety who was named one of two special teams captains (Pat McAfee).

“It’s a big honor especially to be a captain of an organization like the Colts,” Lefeged said. “With this history they have of winning and the Hall of Fame players that have played here, it’s a big deal to me and I take it real serious.”

Lefeged’s 15 tackles on special teams this season ranks second in the NFL and he is quickly becoming one of the league’s top gunners.

Last week against he Lions, Lefeged was called upon to fill in for starting safety Tom Zbikowski to go along with his special teams duties.

After not recording a win away from home last season, Lefeged has been apart of three of them this year and knows the importance of earning victories in hostile environments.

“We know what we have to do when we go on the road,” Lefeged said. “We cannot give up plays on special teams. We have to play solid football for us to have a chance to win a game.”

After being an undrafted free agent in 2010, Lefeged has found a niche on the Colts special teams while providing depth at a safety position occupied by a pair of veterans.

Sitting in Lefeged’s locker is the shirt indicating Indianapolis being placed No. 32 on the preseason rankings and the Colts captain is ready to keep on proving the critics wrong

“Nobody except our families and the people in this organization thought that we were going to be where we are today,” Lefeged said.

“They picked us last. Coach Pagano that was his main focus. Nobody thought we were going to be good this year. Our job wasn’t to be good two, three years from now. We were going to reload and be ready to win this year. We are starting to see it come together and we have to win some games in December for us to have a chance at the playoffs.”

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Posted by Kevin Bowen on October 23, 2012 – 8:42 am

LaVon Brazill wasn’t expecting to hear his name get called.

With 4:28 left in the fourth quarter on Sunday, the Colts punted and stopped Pro Bowl returner Josh Cribbs for a four-yard gain.

However, a holding penalty forced a tired punt coverage group to have to head back down the field in hopes of neutralizing Cribbs one more time on Sunday.

As the unit made the trek back to the Indianapolis 19-yard line, Brazill heard his name get called on the sideline.

Brazill is a backup gunner for the Colts but admitted on Monday afternoon that he hasn’t seen a rep on the punt coverage unit in a long time.

Special teams coaches Marwan Maalouf and Brant Boyer inserted Brazill in for a winded Joe Lefeged as the Colts gunner lined up to the right side of the line of scrimmage.

It looked as if the Colts special teams were going to get off the field but now they would have to kick to Cribbs one more time without their special teams leading tackler.

“I was thinking man I’m tired,” linebacker Justin Hickman said on Monday. “We just knew in that situation, with the point we were at in the game, it was probably the biggest play on special teams all day and we just had to bust our (butts) to get down there and make sure (Cribbs) couldn’t bust anything.”

“I was thinking this was a situation where it can come back to bite you in the (butt). You go down and cover it good the first time and then you get a penalty. The second time he normally busts it loose. On TV that’s how you normally see it happen.”

Brazill made sure the Colts punt coverage unit wouldn’t find their way onto any future Cribbs highlight reel.

Prior to the snap, Browns cornerbacks Johnson Bademosi and Joe Haden lined up across from the Colts rookie.

Bademosi eventually slid inside to rush punter Pat McAfee but Haden, an All-Pro cornerback, still shadowed Brazill.

Knowing that Haden was winded from the first punt, Brazill made a move to the outside and immediately found himself barring down on Cribbs with Haden trailing him.

As Cribbs fielded the punt at the Browns 29-yard line, there was Brazill ready to make a vital stop.

“They had me doubled than one of the guys dropped down so my plan was beating (Haden) and go down there was to make up fair catch but Josh Cribbs is a great player so in his eyes he wanted to make a great play,” Brazill said. “I just broke down and wrapped up and held on.”

The Colts defense eventually forced a turnover on downs on the following possession thus preserving the 17-13 victory over the Browns.

McAfee was one of the first of many Colts teammates to congratulate Brazill and appreciates a coverage unit that held one of the league’s finest returners to just two attempts for 12 yards.

“We have an amazing group of gunners. Sergio (Brown) and Joe Lefeged have done amazing but after one rep, it’s all out so Joe was a little gassed,” McAfee said following the game.

“Marwann Maloouf and Brant Boyer decided to put in a fresh guy LaVon Brazill, who has been working all week for his chance. It was his fresh legs and a smart decision to put him in that really affected the game. That was a huge play and Brazill did an amazing job tackling one of the hardest guys in the league to tackle.”

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Posted by Kevin Bowen on September 13, 2012 – 1:29 pm

It’s the phase of the game that is rarely talked about, yet plays a vital role in a team’s success.

When it comes to the special team aspect of the Colts team, this offseason saw an added emphasis in improving those units.

If Week 1 is any indication than the coverage units are ready for a successful 2012 campaign.

The Colts downed two of there first three punts inside the five-yard line against the Bears with the initial punt leading to an interception returned for a touchdown on the following play.

“That’s something we practice all the time,” special teams coordinator Marwan Maalouf said of downing the football inside the 10. “We’re stressing field position. The more field our defense has behind them (the better). That starts to maybe turn into turnovers for them with a short field.”

Both of those punts were downed by second-year safety Joe Lefeged and he realizes the importance of the ‘third’ phase of the game.

“It felt good, especially because we all know that special teams is an important part of the game,” Lefeged said. “To make a play like that it shifts the momentum in our favor.”

Last season, Lefeged was a mainstay on the Colts special teams while also returning kicks.

While he isn’t returning kicks this season, Maalouf still considers him a very valuable asset to the special teams unit.

“He’s somebody that we’ve been expecting a lot of things out of,” Maalouf said. “He’s just got to keep building on it because the more he does, the more other teams are going to start keying on him.”

Both Lefeged and Maalouf gave a lot of the punt coverage credit to punter Pat McAfee.

On Sunday, McAfee had two punts downed inside the five-yard line to go along with punts of 63, 57 and 54 yards.

Only one of his five punts was able to be returned against the Bears and it’s a two-way street between punter and coverage units for a successful special teams play.

“Pat is a great punter and I know where that ball is going to be. I know where he is going to put it,” Lefeged said. “You get a peak at the ball a little bit when you’re running down the field, if you beat the controllers.”

After having to deal with Bears returner Devin Hester last week, the Colts will once again have their hands full with Vikings returner Percy Harvin.

In his four seasons in the NFL, Harvin has returned four kicks for a touchdown.

Maalouf knows his coverage unit has another task to deal with on Sunday and will count on No. 1’s right leg to help neutralize Harvin.

“Having McAfee doing the kickoffs is huge,” Maalouf said. “He’s one of our best coverage players with his ability to kickoff the ball high and deep.”

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