Position battle: Safety

June, 26, 2014
6/26/14
8:00
AM ET
INDIANAPOLIS -- Antoine Bethea, a longtime fixture at safety for the Indianapolis Colts, packed up his belongings and flew to San Francisco not long after free agency started in March.

How did the Colts address the loss of Bethea?

Trade? Nope.

Draft? Didn't use any of their five picks on that position.

Free agency? Not until recently.

Delano Howell appeared to have the inside track to start alongside LaRon Landry at safety. That changed last week when the Colts signed veteran Mike Adams.

Here's Day 4 of the look at the most competitive position battles for the Colts.

Position: Safety

Primary candidates: Howell, Adams. Sergio Brown and Colt Anderson are in the mix, but this appears to be a two-player race between Howell and Adams.

Howell: 19 tackles and 1 pass defended

Pro: Howell stepped in and started four games for the injured Landry last season and did a decent job. He did well enough that Colts GM Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano were still talking about his play in those games while defending why they didn't select a safety during their draft press conference last month.

Con: The experience factor. The Colts defense, which was inconsistent last season, is trying to close the gap between them and the offense. It doesn't help that there will be even more pressure on the secondary since they won't have linebacker Robert Mathis pursing the quarterback in the first four games of the season. You have to believe the Colts aren't sold on Howell as their starting safety since they went out and signed Adams instead of signing a younger player to back Howell and Landry up.

Adams: 64 tackles, 1 interception, 6 passes defended

Pro: Adams has plenty of experience, something Howell is lacking. Adams was part of a Denver team that went to the Super Bowl last season. He has started 73 games in his 10-year career. The Colts need veteran leadership in the secondary to make up for the loss for Bethea.

Con: There's a reason why Adams was still unsigned in the middle of June. He's 33 years old and you have to wonder how much he has left in his legs despite saying he feels like he's 26 years old.

Mike Wells

ESPN Indianapolis Colts reporter

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