Colts elder statesmen of the secondary Jerraud Powers and Antoine Bethea spoke to the media today including our own Nate Dunlevy about the transition, a veteran's responsibilities and the team's progress in Pagano's new defensive scheme.
Powers is recognizant that he must lead if the secondary is to improve. That guidance and leadership is something he takes seriously but noted he prefers to do with action rather than words:
I still look at myself as a young guy. I just turned 25 this offseason and everybody looked at me like I'm the vet you know, especially in the secondary with the cornerback position. I sort of take on that challenge. Ever since I got here I kind of carried myself to be considered as like an older vet rather than a younger guy. I always want to be a guy that somebody can come up to and ask for advice or direction or whatever the case may be.
I don't put any extra pressure on myself. I conduct myself in a way that I feel if anybody is watching me or trying to see how to do things the right way--I definitely see myself as a guy they can watch.
He also mentioned at this point the energy levels are conducive to making progress:
It's high-energy, especially early in training camp. I'm pretty sure the next two or three days the energy is going to be high then you'll hit that little dull point you know where coach will probably have to jump on some guy's back to get him going then it'll pick back up. It'll be alright. You know how training camp is. It's kind of like that. We want to keep in that straight line and come out and have that same intensity each day because if we do we're going to build on it.
As for Antoine Bethea he was glad to see Tony Dungy yet is very excited about the future:
It's always good to see him. He did alot for this organization so it's most definitely a pleasure to be able to see him.
I'm extremely excited, just being able to see what those guys (Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu) have done in their career in a system that's similar. You know I'm just trying to watch as much film as I can and see what I can pick up from those guys. Coach Pagano being a defensive-minded coach, being a DB coach in the past--you know I'm extremely excited to see what I can do.
He too noted the increased intensity:
We're exicted. We had a good OTAs, finished off strong and to be back out here the first day of training camp, you know guys are excited. Get a little bit of the cobwebs out coming back from the month off but I'm pretty sure when we get out here this afternoon and get full speed it'll be alot more intense.
Bethea was impressed with the first walkthrough and happy with the progression following OTAs noting the team had a good grasp of their responsibilities on the field:
We had a good walkthrough right there. I think that was a good walkthrough, a good crisp walkthrough. Of course there's going to be times where coaches are getting guys here or there but for the most part, guys being lost? I don't see that. I think that guys have a real good understanding of where we're supposed to be. I just think now is when we have to get to that 100% tempo, a full-paced tempo.
Needless to say the secondary is facing an uphill battle. Unless the front seven is able to reliably pressure quarterbacks the secondary will be under heavy duress much of the season. Adding to the pressure will be new faces, a lack of experience and depth and the departure of Jacob Lacey. Chris Rucker, Kevin Thomas and Terrence Johnson all return after their rookie campaigns. Thomas looks to start opposite Powers. Rucker started 4 games last year and looks to contribute more during this season. The team also added former Notre Dame safety Tom Zbikowski whose fire should fit well with Pagano's aggressive defensive persona. It's quite obvious that Powers and Bethea may need to do more than lead by example if the secondary is to hold their own in 2013.
Boy, would it be awesome if Kevin Thomas turned out to be a good player. Highly touted out of high school, battled injuries at USC, BP and the Colts took a risk drafting him as high as they did, then he gets injuried before his first ever training camp...
@DougEngland It would be terrific if Thomas panned out. Needless to say the team badly needs for someone other than Bethea and Powers to emerge as a playmaker. I'm not sure what the front seven will be able to due but I suspect tremendous pressure on the defensive backs as a result.
@DougEngland So, we have a secondary player who could be potentially great and game changing when he's on the field, but his entire career is plagued with injuries? Does anyone else have deja vu?
@smonroe We're working on it. Nate Dunlevy has been on-site with the team. We're getting some great stuff from the team and players--expect some great stuff through camp.