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Burning Topics heading into the final week of Colts Training Camp

Posted by Kevin Bowen on August 12, 2013 – 4:20 pm

The Colts will conclude their 2013 training camp at Anderson University this Friday.

Practices will take place each afternoon through Thursday, before a final Friday morning session wraps up three weeks in Anderson.

With a preseason game in the books, here’s a look at five topics to focus on before the Colts travel east this weekend to take on the New York Giants.

Andrew Luck looking for scoring drives: It was a short, but solid, afternoon for the Colts first-team offense on Sunday.

Luck admitted to a mental error with his cadence at the line of scrimmage that led to a sack. Also, a Coby Fleener fumble ended a potential scoring drive.

Against the Bills, Luck was 4-of-6 for 41 yards. Expect the Colts second-year quarterback to get a few more series of action on Sunday night.

Putting together sustained drives, ending in points, is a point of emphasis this week.

Getting DHB his first catch with the Colts: Darrius Heyward-Bey is still working his way back from a knee sprain.

He ran with the first unit against the Bills but did not record a catch.

Expect DHB to get some more 11-on-11 work in practice this week as the Colts try to solidify a potent top three receiver group in Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and DHB.


Starting offensive line needs to stay in tact: This goes without saying but given the depth behind the starting five, keeping the current unit healthy is vital.

Each member of the starting five has been out there for every practice during training camp which is a welcoming sign with two new starters being brought in.

Backup Joe Reitz got multiple quarters at left tackle against the Bills after primarily working at guard in the early part of training camp.

If the Colts can get rookies Hugh Thornton and Khaled Holmes back out on the practice field than the offensive line would have some depth as the midway point of the preseason approaches.

LB-Justin Hickman could be done for the year: Chuck Pagano said Hickman’s foot injury suffered against the Bills is potentially season ending.

Hickman was starting at ILB on Sunday with Pat Angerer, Jerrell Freeman, Mario Harvey and Josh McNary all sidelined with injuries.

The competition for a starting spot next to Freeman seems to be between Kavell Conner and Kelvin Sheppard, at least until the names mentioned above return from various injuries.

Waiting for the debuts of LaRon Landry and Bjoern Werner: Two of the Colts more intriguing defenders sat out against Buffalo with minor injuries.

Having Werner back out on the field this week, as Pagano said he expects, will help a Colts pass rush that recorded just one sack and one quarterback hurry in the preseason opener.

At the backend of the defense, the Colts missed five safeties with Landry the headliner of the group.

If Landry makes his debut next weekend, he will do it in the stadium that he called home in 2012 with the New York Jets.

Also, the Giants are an opponent Landry knows well after five seasons with the Washington Redskins.

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Day Eight Impressions: Competition behind DHB, new names at ILB and Greg Toler returns

Posted by Kevin Bowen on August 5, 2013 – 4:58 pm

The Colts spent most of Monday afternoon’s practice drilling specific situations (Hail Mary, last second field goals, getting out of bounds, etc).

During the live portion of practice though, Andrew Luck caught fire early on, connecting on his first 10 passes.

Here are three takeaways from day eight…

DHB’s injury “not serious”: Darrius Heyward-Bey did not practice on Monday afternoon, watching from behind the receivers group.

The Colts said the injury is “not serious” following practice but without DHB in the lineup the door is open for some significant receiver reps.

T.Y. Hilton added yet another strong day of practice to his impressive training camp. Hilton caught four of Luck’s first seven passes on Monday.

Griff Whalen and Nathan Palmer should see their reps increase with DHB sidelined. Also, Jeremy Kelley and Lanear Sampson have had a nice first week of camp.

Inside Linebacker spot filled with competition: Colts fans were checking their rosters frequently on Monday with some different names sliding into the inside linebackers spot.

Jerrell Freeman was sidelined with a shoulder injury on Monday, which gave some first team reps to Justin Hickman.

Last year, Hickman played extensively on the outside but this year he has also been taking reps at inside and was with the first unit for a quite a while on Monday.

Other names that Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky mentioned for the starting spot next to Freeman includes Kavell Conner, Kelvin Sheppard, Pat Angerer and Josh McNary.

Cornerbacks welcome back Greg Toler: Back with the first unit on Monday afternoon was Colts cornerback Greg Toler.

While Toler was back with the first unit, it was Vontae Davis and Darius Butler who both added to their numerous camp pass deflections.

After Davis was victim of a terrific catch by Reggie Wayne during red zone drills, he bounced back the following play knocking a potential touchdown away from the Colts six-time Pro Bowl receiver.

Earlier in practice it was Butler leaping high in the air to knock away a pass that would have been a significant gain for Wayne.




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Day 3 Impressions: The physicality of pads, Josh McNary’s arrival and the depth in the trenches

Posted by Kevin Bowen on July 30, 2013 – 7:04 pm

Mother Nature held off long enough on Tuesday as the Colts got through their first padded practice of the year.

The hitting was revved up during the afternoon practice with the running game being the focal point.

Here are three takeaways from day three…

Physicality taken to another level: The first of nine padded practices are in the books after Tuesday’s afternoon session.

The hitting started early and often with 1-on-1 drills between the running backs and linebackers and then the offensive and defensive lines.

Some of the biggest hits on the afternoon came from inside linebacker Kavell Conner and new safety LaRon Landry.

It might not have the excitement of a two-minute drill but watching blocking drills can be very telling of who will see playing time on a team that has preached physicality since the start of training camp .

Over the next few weeks the competition should separate themselves with the running game continued to be focused on with the padded practices underway.

Click here to watch Coach Pagano talk with the media on Tuesday

Josh McNary can still ride this bike: The Colts welcomed linebacker Josh McNary fresh off his service in the Army.

McNary trotted out to practice early in the afternoon and wasted no time making an impression.

He dominated his first two reps in one-on-one drills and showed the pass rushing prowess that led him to set Army’s school record for sacks (28.0).

Ryan Grigson told McNary before practice that being back out on the football field “would be like riding a bike” and the 251-pound outside linebacker agreed with that sentiment following his first NFL practice.

McNary’s progress will be interesting to watch at one of the Colts deepest positions.

Depth on lines critical moving forward: Perhaps no position on the football field has to rely on more bodies during the course of the game than the defensive line.

After day one, it’s pretty clear the Colts have a ton of defensive line depth with rookies Montori Hughes and Bjoern Werner (with his hand on the ground) winning a majority of their reps.

Having guys like Josh Chapman, Drake Nevis and Hughes not running with the first team just shows how deep the line can be.

On the other side of the ball, the Colts are still waiting to see what they have in picks Hugh Thornton and Khaled Holmes.

Thornton is nursing an ankle injury that he suffered late last week.

Holmes now joins his fellow rookie on the sideline after the Colts fourth round draft pick left Tuesday’s afternoon practice with a right ankle injury.

Joe Reitz seems to be firmly entrenched as the Colts sixth offensive lineman, seeing some time in jumbo packages on Tuesday.

Click here to watch Tuesday’s daily recap with ‘Voice of the Colts’ Bob Lamey

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Posted by Kevin Bowen on October 23, 2012 – 6:00 pm

‘Depth’ is not a word that has been used very often when talking about the Colts roster this season.

Injuries have caused for weekly introductions between new teammates as players try to get to know who they will be lining up next to each week.

One position that is starting to have the ‘depth’ word thrown around is inside linebacker.

Colts 2011 leading tackler Pat Angerer returned to the lineup on Sunday and looked like he never missed a beat.

Angerer had six tackles on Sunday and a pair of quarterback hurries on Brandon Weeden.

“It was fun,” Angerer said. “When you are away from it so long, you don’t think you got it anymore. It was nice to finally hit somebody.”

Bruce Arians said the staff wanted around 20 snaps for Angerer on Sunday and were able to achieve a number that should increase as his conditioning improves.

Angerer combined with leading tackler Jerrell Freeman on Sunday and along with three-year starter Kavell Conner, the Colts have a trio of young, aggressive linebackers.

“I hope we’ll see a lot of that,” Arians said of the Angerer and Freeman combination. “We purposely put Pat at the Mike position so that they could get out there together.”

“Not that Kavell was doing anything wrong but when you’ve got double-digit tacklers out there at the same time who are extremely quick and showed up in crunch time in that ball game. It was nice we hit the number of snaps for Pat pretty close to where we wanted, about 22.”

For the past three seasons, Angerer and Conner have been mainstays in the linebacker corps. When Angerer went down in the preseason opener, uncertainty surrounded a position that seemed to be set in stone.

Enter Freeman.

Fresh out of the Canadian football league, Freeman has led the Colts in tackles in each game this season.

It’s a great problem to have on where to play three hungry, young linebackers and Arians assures that each will be in the action moving forward.

“There’s a spot for all those guys and you always want to keep a role for everybody,” Arians 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 August 15, 2012 – 4:40 pm

There will be a new face in the middle of the Colts defense when they take the field this Sunday evening.

Now, who that will be remains to be seen.

Linebackers Jerrell Freeman and Moise Fokou both have been taking reps with the first team defense for the past two days.

Freeman played in the Canadian Football League for the past three seasons and he doesn’t take a single chance to play in the NFL for granted.

“I mean of course it’s an opportunity to show everybody what you got. I’m always proving myself coming from Division III (Mary-Hardin Baylor) to CFL. I’ll be proving myself for the rest of my career so I don’t mind that at all.”

For Fokou, it has been a road less traveled than Freeman. While he hasn’t logged the miles around North America like Freeman has, Fokou is still getting acclimated to life as an Indianapolis Colt.

Fokou and fellow linebacker Greg Lloyd were acquired from the Eagles via trade on August 2nd, and after an injury to Angerer, he finds himself in the mix of the first team defense.

“I felt pretty good out there yesterday,” Fokou said. “I know it’s only been a short time but I’ve been hitting it hard with the coaches, been picking it up pretty good. Not quite there yet, still a work in progress but definitely on the right track.”

This is Fokou’s fourth season in the NFL but he has seen this defensive scheme during his college career at Maryland.

“I’m familiar with it from college a little bit. Being back with it kind of brings back old memories,” Fokou said. “Still day-to-day work. You’ve got to work at it to get better at it. Although I’m getting better, I’m still a long way from being perfect.”

No matter who the Colts eventually decide on at middle linebacker, that person will be playing amongst experienced defenders.

Outside linebackers Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis have played a combined 19 years in the NFL and inside linebacker Kavell Conner has started 24 games the last two seasons.

It will be that experience that the new middle linebacker will lean on as the Colts make their way into the regular season.

For a player like Freeman, life in the NFL is something he has thought about since he was a young boy and now he is getting a chance to fill that opportunity.

“I’m from Texas so all we know is football, so of course you want to play in the NFL,” Freeman said. “It definitely is a dream to play here.”


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Posted by Kevin Bowen on August 7, 2012 – 4:30 pm

When looking at linebacker Pat Angerer’s statistical numbers from last season, most would call it a successful year.

After leading the league in tackles for much of the 2011 season, Angerer finished fourth in the NFL with 146 stops.

That is all fine and well with Angerer, but it’s the number in the win column that is most important to him in 2012.

“I’m still going to try to make tackles, but I want to win. I don’t really care if I have any tackles as long as we keep winning and playing hard,” Angerer said.

While many defenders are learning a new position this season, the switch for Angerer hasn’t been as drastic.

Lining up next to Angerer in the middle of the 3-4 defense has been fellow third-year linebacker Kavell Conner.

The linebacker duo entered the NFL back in 2010 and have been consistent starters for the Colts each of the last two seasons.

With former Pro Bowl defensive ends flanking them on the outside, Angerer said it’s nice to have a familiar face next to him in the middle.

“Kavell (Conner) is a good guy, and I always love playing next to him. I’m glad that he’s healthy. That dude can hit. He smoked me yesterday, did you guys see that? Oh man, I’ve never been hit like that before in my life,” Angerer said following Tuesday morning’s walk-through.

Another new face, and member of that 2010 draft class, is Jerry Hughes.

Playing in an outside linebacker position, Hughes has more than caught the eye of his teammates during training camp.

“He’s just an unbelievable athlete. That guy can do just about anything,” Angerer said of Hughes. “Watching him in linebacker drills, we’ve been doing those for years and he just started doing it, and he was better than all of us at it. I mean that guy is just a freak. It’ll be exciting to see what he ends up doing.”

It’s that versatility of so many different players that excites Angerer about getting back on the field this season.

He knows the individual numbers will come is way but at the end of the day the longer the season goes, the happier No. 51 will be.

“There are so many things that we can do; it could be a 3-4, 4-3, 5-2, it can be anything. There are so many good athletes out there on the defense that anybody is going to make a big play. It definitely is exciting.”


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Posted by Kevin Bowen on August 5, 2012 – 7:19 pm

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.

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Colts Fan Fest: Princeton

Posted by on June 29, 2012 – 12:10 pm

Bright and early Wednesday morning, the Colts caravan rolled out of the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center and headed south to Princeton, Ind. The whole crew was on the road for this trip, from our interns in community relations to ticket sales, as well as youth football and sponsorship sales. No one wanted to miss this Fan Fest!

Three hours later, we finally arrived at the Toyota plant in Princeton. I couldn’t believe how massive the place was! Before we started to set up for the event, some of us took a tour of the plant’s Visitor Center. We met Joanie who told us some interesting facts about Toyota. One fun fact being that the man who started the Toyota company was actually named “Toyoda.” However, in the Japanese language the letter D is made with eight strokes and eight is an unlucky number. The company changed the D to T and hasn’t looked back since. Joanie and I both agreed that the T looks much better anyways.

Soon after that, the inflatables were inflated, Colts In Motion was open for business, Free Fallin’ was warming up tunes like Won’t Back Down and American Girl and the players were en route to the event. The dynamic duo of Pat Angerer and Kavell Conner made their second appearance of the summer at Wednesday’s Fan Fest. Two fan favorites, these guys love having fun with Colts fans.

“It’s just always so great to see how many fans want to support you, even during the summer,” said Conner. “It’s awesome to be able to interact with the fans at events like these.”

The fans in Princeton did not disappoint. High temperatures and waiting in line on asphalt didn’t deter these COLTSTRONG fans. From the Toyota workers who came out and waited in their hard hats to the kids who ran up and down the slide for two hours, anyone and everyone came out to meet the Colts.

Corbin, Rilen and Landon were excited because one of their cousins was a cheerleader at the Fan Fest. Corbin said to me: “I know Stephanie! I know one of the cheerleaders!” While Corbin was excited to see his cousin, he also couldn’t wait to get out of line to play in the inflatables. Corbin did have one very important question for me. “So what exactly does that big blow up guy do?” Assuming he was talking about my good friend Tiny, I explained that Tiny oversees all of our Colts Fan Fests to make sure everyone has a good time. I think Corbin was satisfied with the answer, although a little disappointed Tiny wasn’t a bounce house or slide that he could jump around in.

It was great to see all of the Toyota workers that were able to take a break from working to come check out the Fan Fest. Even the company president showed up to meet the Colts! Michelle Jackson, a Public Affairs manager at the plant, was very excited the Colts were able to visit. “It’s so great that the Colts could come to us because not everyone down here can always get up to them,” said Jackson. “And it’s especially great that we can do this for our Toyota team members here at the plant.”

Crowds lingered until the very end of the event, but soon after the fun began it was time to tear down and pack up for the next one. Thanks for the fun time, Princeton! I hope we’re able to come back to visit next year. And as for you all at the Toyota plant, we’re so glad you’re the “Official Vehicle of the Indianapolis Colts!”

Game Rewind: Indianapolis Colts

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Colts Fan Fest: Wabash

Posted by on June 21, 2012 – 9:50 am

While summer doesn’t officially begin until next week, I kicked off my favorite season of the year Thursday evening at the Colts first Fan Fest in Wabash, Ind. Hundreds of Wabash community members swarmed to the Honeywell Center to take part in some Fan Fest fun. Lines had already begun to stretch throughout the street when players Pat Angerer and Kavell Conner arrived.

“It’s great to see the support from all of our fans at events like these. Everyone is always so enthusiastic about the Colts. It makes you realize how important your job really is,” said Angerer.

While most of the other interns were busy with important tasks such as making sure no injuries occurred in the bounce house, I visited with some of Wabash’s biggest Colts fans.  Mike and Linda Campbell have waited in long lines before to see the Colts prior to visiting Thursday’s Fan Fest. In fact, a couple of seasons ago the Campbell’s tailgated in temperatures below freezing to cheer on the Colts to a victory. “It was so cold the chicken wings froze!” Mike said.

Thursday, however, was a beautiful day making the wait for autographs a little more comfortable. Crowds enjoyed music from former Colts punter Hunter Smith and his band. Kids bounced from one inflatable to another, stopping in between to take a look inside the Colts In Motion traveling museum.

Our favorite inflatable, Tiny, welcomed fans as they entered Thursday’s Fan Fest. Granted, it took nearly 10 interns to set up our brand new, 30 foot tall friend. We finally tied the big guy to the ground and, despite some pokes from a few toddlers, he stood tall and proud throughout the duration of the event. I like to think that Tiny is the inspiration behind “COLTSTRONG.”

As I talked to more and more people throughout the event, I couldn’t help but notice the excitement building for the upcoming Colts season. I have never visited Wabash, but after Thursday’s Fan Fest I can tell that this city bleeds blue.

One youngster, Dallas, told me he had no idea the Colts party, as he called it, was coming to town. In fact, he wondered when this “Colts party” would be back. While I couldn’t promise we would be back anytime soon, I did remind him that we weren’t leaving until 7 p.m. and that the inflatable slide was all his until we pulled the plug on the generator. I think Dallas made the trip up and down and slide at least seven more times.

Before tearing down the stage and packing away the bounce house and slide, I stopped to talk to Andrea Zwiebel from the Honeywell Center. Zwiebel said that she counted more than 950 people in attendance.

Can you believe that nearly 1,000 people came out to visit our Fan Fest?! While getting to meet Pat and Kavell was a highlight of the night for many, I’m sure that all fans in attendance mostly enjoyed getting to hang out with my good friend Tiny. Tiny and I love getting out and meeting our fans. We’ll be visiting LaPorte next Wednesday, and we’ll be looking for our biggest Colts fans to talk to. Blue hair, face and/or body paint, excessive blue clothing, and maybe even arriving on an actual horse will be sure to get you noticed. Thanks for the fun time, Wabash! As for you guys in LaPorte, see you soon!

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