Indianapolis Colts: Cassius Vaughn

Colts rookie minicamp questions

May, 15, 2014
May 15
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts open their three-day rookie minicamp Friday. It will be the first time the media gets a chance to talk to the draft picks and undrafted free agents face to face.

Here are three questions heading into the camp.

Can the transition be made?

Two of the Colts’ draft picks -- Jack Mewhort and Jonathan Newsome -- will be making the transition from playing one position in college to likely a different one in the NFL.

Mewhort has played every position on the offensive line at one point in his football career, but he started at tackle during his final season Ohio State. He will likely end up playing guard in the NFL. General manager Ryan Grigson said during a radio interview this week that Mewhort reminds him of New England’s Logan Mankins.

Newsome played defensive end at Ball State. Just like his new teammate Robert Mathis, though, Newsome will transition to a rush linebacker in coach Chuck Pagano’s 3-4 defensive scheme. Newsome likes the comparison to Mathis, now he just has to try to live up to that comparison.

From hoopster to football player?

What Mewhort and Newsome have to do is nothing compared to what tight end Erik Swoope is about to experience.

Swoope spent four seasons playing basketball at the University of Miami. Now he’s attempting to become an NFL tight end.

Easy, right?

That is what Swoope and the Colts hope. Swoope has been working out with New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham, another basketball-player-turned-tight end, in the offseason.

It’s going to be a challenge for Swoope, but the Colts are going to give the undrafted free agent a shot to make the roster.

Loading up on cornerbacks?

The Colts signed 20 undrafted free agents after the draft last weekend. Five of those signings were cornerbacks.

Greg Toler (as long as he stays healthy) and Vontae Davis will be the starters next season. Darius Butler will be the nickelback and Josh Gordy will be the fourth defensive back. There is at least one more spot -- probably two -- open after Cassius Vaughn signed with Detroit.

Loucheiz Purifoy is a player to keep an eye on. Purifoy, who played at Florida, had the talent to get drafted, but character issues kept teams away. The Colts have been willing to give players like Purifoy a shot to prove themselves to the coaches and front office personnel.

Colts free-agency tracker

March, 19, 2014
Mar 19
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts opened free agency with the fourth-most salary-cap space in the league. Their cap space has shrunk after signing several free agents like cornerback Vontae Davis and defensive lineman Arthur Jones. The Colts have about $13.5 million in cap space remaining.

They’re still in need of a safety and possibly a guard and another center.

Here's a look at who the Colts have signed, who has moved on and who is still waiting to sign with a team.

Heading to Indianapolis

DE/DT Arthur Jones

Status: Signed a five-year, $33 million contract with $10 million guaranteed

LB D'Qwell Jackson

Status: Signed four-year, $22 million contract with $11 million guaranteed

C Phil Costa

Status: Signed a one-year, $1.2 million contract with $450,000 guaranteed

WR Hakeem Nicks

Status: Signed a one-year, $3.9 million contract with $2.25 million guaranteed

Staying put

RB Ahmad Bradshaw

Status: Signed a one-year deal for $855,000

CB Vontae Davis

Status: Signed a four-year deal for $39 million with $20 million guaranteed

S Sergio Brown

Status: Signed a one-year deal for $1.4 million with $300,000 guaranteed

P Pat McAfee

Status: Signed a five-year deal for $14.5 million with $5 million guaranteed

K Adam Vinatieri

Status: Signed a two-year contract for $5 million with $500,000 guaranteed

Moving on

S Antoine Bethea

Status: Signed a four-year, $23 million contract with $9.25 guaranteed with San Francisco

C Samson Satele

Status: Released on March 6

RB Donald Brown

Status: Signed a three-year, $10 million contract with $4 million guaranteed with San Diego

OL Jeff Linkenbach

Status: Signed a one-year, $900,000 contract with $250,000 guaranteed with Kansas City

LB Kavell Conner

Status: Signed a three-year, $2.7 million with San Diego

Still waiting

OL Justin Anderson, RB Tashard Choice, DT Aubrayo Franklin, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, LB Scott Lutrus, DE Ricardo Mathews, DT Jake McDonough, OL Mike McGlynn, LB Lawrence Sidbury, CB Cassius Vaughn, LB Pat Angerer

Colts could end up needing help at CB

February, 19, 2014
Feb 19
INDIANAPOLIS -- Cornerback is an intriguing position for the Indianapolis Colts this offseason.

Vontae Davis is about to hit the free-agent market unless for some reason the Colts decide to use their franchise tag on him. Davis is the Colts' top priority when it comes to re-signing their own players. Cassius Vaughn, who started some in place of the injured Greg Toler, is also a free agent.

And speaking of Toler, he still has two years remaining on his contract but the Colts can’t count on him because he brought his injury problems with him to Indianapolis from Arizona. Toler missed seven games with a groin injury last season and was ineffective in the games he played in when he returned before the Colts finally placed him on injured reserve.

Which direction the Colts go in the draft is a toss up because they have a number of needs and they have limited picks (second, third, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds).

The defensive backs are scheduled to have on-field workouts during the scouting combine on Feb. 25.

Here are the top 10 cornerbacks in this year’s draft, according to Mel Kiper Jr.

1. Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
2. Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
3. Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State
4. Jason Verrett, TCU
5. Marcus Roberson, Florida
6. Bradley Roby, Ohio State
7. Keith McGill, Utah
8. Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida
9. Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
10. Bashaud Breeland, Clemson

Kiper had Gilbert, Dennard, Roberson and Roby being selected in the first round in his most recent mock draft.

Free-Agent Watch: Cassius Vaughn

February, 6, 2014
Feb 6
Cornerback Cassius Vaughn

2013 stats: 30 tackles, 6 passes defended, 3 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles.

Vaughn, one of the lead jokesters in the locker room, played a number of different roles last season. He was the the fourth cornerback. He started in Greg Toler’s absence because of the Colts’ desire to keep Darius Butler at nickel back. Vaughn was even a healthy inactive.

Vaughn played well at times, getting two interceptions against Tennessee in early December. He also struggled when he started opposite of Vontae Davis. Vaughn ended up falling behind Josh Gordy on the depth chart. He didn’t play in either of the playoffs game against Kansas City or New England.

Prediction: Depending on what happens with Davis and Gordy, Vaughn may end up having to be the team’s fifth cornerback if the Colts re-sign him.

Indianapolis Colts free agents

January, 12, 2014
Jan 12
Here's a quick list of the Colts' free-agent players. General manager Ryan Grigson will have some decisions to make because there are several players on the list who have been fixtures in the organization, so he'll have to decide if he wants to bring them back at a reduced price or cut ties with them.

Seems like Antoine Bethea, Adam Vinatieri, Pat McAfee, Donald Brown, Vontae Davis and Sergio Brown will be the toughest for Grigson to decide on. And keep in mind that the Colts don’t have a first-round draft pick this year, either.

Position/name: Age
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts should have better indication on where things stand with their injured secondary sometime Monday when they get a medical update on cornerback Greg Toler.

Toler left the game in the first half of Saturday’s victory over the Kansas City Chiefs with a groin injury. Safety LaRon Landry suffered a concussion in the second half. He has to pass the NFL’s concussion protocol before he’s cleared to play.

Toler injured the groin when he was defending Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe on a slant pattern that went for 63 yards on Kansas City’s second offensive series.

“He chased him down and went for the strip and just twisted and fell wrong,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “I think he aggravated that thing on that play. Felt like he was okay, tough, tough kid. Didn’t want to let his teammates down and all that stuff. Then obviously that thing wasn’t right.”

Toler remained in the game for one more series but left after former Colt Donnie Avery blew by him for a 79-yard touchdown reception.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Toler didn’t play against New England on Saturday because he missed seven games with a groin injury during the regular season.

“It’s a shame because he’s worked his tail off to try to get back and help this team,” Pagano said. “Hopefully we’ll still have him available.”

Pagano explained his decision to put cornerback Cassius Vaughn on the inactive list against the Chiefs despite Toler and Vontae Davis both recently dealing with groin injuries.

“It was obviously an extremely difficult one,” Pagano said. “There were a lot of things that play into that. We got some guys back. This week was very, very difficult. That was a very difficult decision that we had to make but we had such, as far as the D-line went, we’ve been going with five. But with Ricky (Jean Francois) just coming off of injury, Aubrayo (Franklin) had a knee, Cory (Redding) had a shoulder. We really felt like it was nothing that Cassius did. It was really just looking at the D-line depth and we felt like we needed six bodies there instead of five just because of the health of that group.”
INDIANAPOLIS -- If the way Greg Toler walked around the locker room Thursday afternoon was any indication, you probably shouldn't expect to see the Indianapolis Colts cornerback in the lineup against the Houston Texans on Sunday afternoon.

Toler didn't walk like a player who is ready to return to the lineup after missing the past six games with a groin injury. He gingerly walked around the locker room during the portion that's open to the media. Where Toler stands health wise was put more into perspective when the injury report was released late Thursday afternoon.

He went from being limited in practice Wednesday to not practicing at all Thursday. Not practicing Thursday makes me think Toler won't play against the Texans because he said at the start of the week that he needed to get through full week of practice and also be 100 percent healthy before returning to the lineup.

That obviously didn't happen.

It has gotten to the point that the Colts should think about shutting Toler down for the rest of the season. This groin injury is about to head into the eighth week when you count the bye week.

Coach Chuck Pagano said a couple of weeks ago that they didn't plan on shutting Toler down. It'll be interesting to see if he still feels the same way when he addresses the media Friday.

The Colts will only have two regular-season games remaining after facing the Texans. They play at Kansas City on Dec. 22. I wouldn't be surprised if Toler misses that game, too. He talked last week about how freezing temperatures impact his groin because it's difficult to keep it warm while on the sidelines.

The Colts could use Toler's help in the secondary. They have given up an average of 31 points and 401 yards per game in the past seven games. Pagano has already changed the lineup by putting Darrius Butler in for Cassius Vaughn, who had been starting for Toler.

But at some point you have to throw in the towel and just call it quits for the season with Toler.
INDIANAPOLIS -- The offense, which is supposed to be the strong suit of the team, is basically stuck in neutral with breakdowns that keep it from going forward.

And it’ll likely stay that way barring some kind of work being done to get going in the in the final four regular-season games. Quarterback Andrew Luck's talent will never be questioned. But he can only do so much when the running game is struggling and receivers aren't catching his passes.

That means the Indianapolis Colts will have to rely on their defense to carry them the rest of the season.

The defense? Yes, the same defense that played poorly in four straight games prior to Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.

That’s where things have gotten for the Colts.

The defense had its best game in more than a month when it forced four turnovers in the victory over the Titans.

“Really proud of the defense playing the way they did,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “They were asked time and time and time again to go out there and make stops and get off the field against a team that came in doing a really good job on third down. The turnovers were huge and then getting off obviously the last one and the two-minute drill was major.”

What happened defensively Sunday could be looked at as surprising and motivating considering where they were before.

The Colts hadn’t intercepted a pass in four games and they had given up at least 410 yards in four of the past seven games.

“In a sense it was frustrating, but we weren’t hanging our heads and getting down on ourselves,” LaRon Landry said. “We just had to have a pep talk and get on the same page. It was all about finishing, paying attention to detail the whole week and going out and executing.

“That was the biggest thing to finish because we have all the talent and ability, but we weren’t putting it all together as a team effort.”

The defense still isn’t perfect. The unit gave up 162 yards rushing to the Titans. That was the most they had given up since the Seattle Seahawks ran for 218 yards against them in Week 5. The Colts only allowed the Titans inside their 20-yard line twice.

“We’ve been taking it as a challenge, it’s not just one week,” said cornerback Cassius Vaughn, who had two interceptions Sunday. “We’ve wanted to play better. It’s not like we wanted to play bad so the media can talk bad about us. We put it together [Sunday].”

The defense could be getting cornerback Greg Toler (groin) back this weekend against the Cincinnati Bengals after missing the past five games. His presence energized fellow cornerback Vontae Davis earlier this season.

The unit will be largely intact depending on how severe defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois’ foot injury is, so there’s no excuse for them to keep improving and carrying the team the rest of the season.

“It’s no worries about who’s out there playing on the field,” safety Antoine Bethea said. “We all have confidence in one another, we all trust one another, so whoever is out there in between those lines, we know they can play and make plays.”

Vaughn uses demotion as motivation

December, 2, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts cornerback Cassius Vaughn could have let the demotion eat at him.

He actually used it as motivation.

Vaughn had two of the Colts' three interceptions in their victory over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. He entered the game with only three interceptions in his four-year career.

“I go in and just play my game regardless if I’m the starting corner or the fifth corner,” Vaughn said. “If I get on the field I feel like I’m the best corner on the field no matter who is out there. That’s just how I think about myself and I just wanted to go out there and play ball.”

Vaughn had started opposite Vontae Davis at cornerback in place of the injured Greg Toler in the four games prior to Sunday. Vaughn struggled at times, leading coach Chuck Pagano to replace him with Darius Butler in the starting lineup against the Titans.

Vaughn is team’s fourth cornerback, but the Colts wanted to keep Butler in the slot as the nickelback. Vaughn lined up on the outside and Butler slid to the slot when the Colts had three cornerbacks in the game Sunday.

“I took it as a challenge to step my game up,” Vaughn said. “They felt like we needed to shake it up a little bit. I felt like I should have done some better things out there, but it wasn’t ever a downer because I know they believe in me. We feel like that’s what we needed to do and they did that and they made the right decision.”

The Colts are optimistic that Toler (groin) will be back in the lineup for Sunday’s game at Cincinnati.
Donald BrownAP Photo/AJ MastDonald Brown's touchdown late in the fourth quarter sealed the game for the Colts.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Change was necessary.

It wasn't an easy task to pull off because the cupboard had limited options. But the Indianapolis Colts had to do something because things simply weren't working.

You wouldn't have known that the Colts went into Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans with a two-game lead in the AFC South by the way they had play in the four games prior.

That's what prompted the moves to be made.

All is not fixed, but when the clock struck all zeroes at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Colts walked off the field 22-14 winners and on the brink of winning their first division title since 2010.

"That was a backyard street brawl man," Colts defensive lineman Cory Redding said. "You got called out in your neighborhood by the biggest kid and you have to fight. And that's what it was. Both of us are a really fighting for the division...We knew it was going to be a tough division game and definitely get the bad taste out of our mouths. We never want to have one loss turn into two."

The Colts (8-4) have been ravished with injuries, including to veteran Reggie Wayne, and their play at times has left some wondering how they've managed to win eight games this season.

Here they stand with a three-game lead in the division with only four to play. The Colts can wrap things up with a victory at Cincinnati or if the Titans lose at Denver next weekend.

"We're not exhaling," coach Chuck Pagano said. "The division is not sewn up. We're going to do everything within our power to keep trending in the right direction."

Out went cornerback Cassius Vaughn. Out went guard Mike McGlynn. And out went running back Trent Richardson, further proving that the trade with Cleveland earlier this season has been a bust.

Enter cornerback Darius Butler, guard Jeff Linkenbach and running back Donald Brown.

Vaughn responded to his demotion by getting two of Indianapolis' three interceptions. Brown was held to eight yards on eight attempts until he had six carries for 46 yards and a touchdown on the Colts' final offensive series.

"We're always trying to just make decisions based on what's best for the team and what gives us the best chance to win," Pagano said. "We made a decision to give a couple guys an opportunity and move forward."

But this is only one game.

The Colts know that, too. That's why they didn't strut around the locker room after the game like all was well again.

The flaws are still there and they'd be even more glaring if future Hall-of-Fame kicker Adam Vinatieri didn't make five field goals -- four coming from at least 45 yards -- and the defense didn't force four turnovers.

The Colts will have a difficult time winning a playoff game if they continue to play like this.

"We know we can't survive our mistakes forever," quarterback Andrew Luck said. "I know it sounds a bit like a broken record, but sometimes you just got to gut a win out, no matter how ugly it is. ... We still got a lot of mistakes to clean up."

Speaking of broken records, where have you heard this before? It's a miracle that Luck is able to continue to shake off all the hits he takes during the game.

Inserting Linkenbach into the starting lineup didn't improve an offensive line that needs to be upgraded in the offseason for the second straight year. Luck was sacked five times, including four in the second quarter.

The Colts did manage to score 12 points in the first half, but they haven't scored a touchdown in the first 30 minutes of a game since tight end Coby Fleener caught an 8-yard pass from Luck in the second quarter against Denver on Oct. 20 and Indianapolis was still considered a threat in the AFC.

"We know going down the stretch here that you've got to score touchdowns and try to put people away," Pagano said. "You let people hang around, you're just asking for trouble. Great win, but we still got obviously a long way to go and a lot of work to do, but really proud of the guys, proud of the coaches, proud of the players."

And proud to be closing in on a division title.

Rapid Reaction: Indianapolis Colts

December, 1, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS -- A few thoughts on the Indianapolis Colts' 22-14 victory over the Tennessee Titans.

What it means: It was far from a thing of beauty -- it was even ugly at times -- but the Colts control their own fate in the AFC South. The victory gives them a three-game lead over the Titans with four games left in the season. The ageless wonder Adam Vinatieri kicked five field goals and the Colts found their ground game on their final offensive series to seal the game. Running back Donald Brown had six carries for 46 yards on the drive that gave them an eight-point lead. He capped it off with a touchdown run. Brown, who replaced Trent Richardson in the starting lineup, had eight carries for 8 yards prior to the final drive.

No protection: The Colts shook up their offensive line some by moving right guard Mike McGlynn to the bench and replacing him with Jeff Linkenbach. That didn’t stop the Titans from being able to get after Andrew Luck. The Titans sacked Luck five times, including four times in the second quarter alone.

Getting defensive: The Colts also changed things up some in the secondary. Cassius Vaughn had been starting for the injured Greg Toler at cornerback, but he was replaced by Darius Butler. The demotion woke Vaughn up, as he intercepted Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick twice. Linebacker Robert Mathis added to his league lead in sacks -- 15.5 -- when he got a strip-sack of Fitzpatrick in the second half. Linebacker Jerrell Freeman iced the game when he picked off Fitzpatrick's pass in Colts territory with 24 seconds left.

Still no offense in the first half: The good news for the Colts is that they went into the half with a 12-7 lead. The bad news is that they still can’t score any touchdowns in the first half. The Colts have had 31 possessions and 153 plays in the first half of their past five games. They haven’t scored a touchdown in any of those halves.

What’s next: The Colts can clinch the AFC South if they can go on the road and beat the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 8.

Practice report: Toler to miss fifth game

November, 29, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts starting cornerback Greg Toler will miss his fifth straight game with a groin injury.

Coach Chuck Pagano is optimistic that Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans will be the last game Toler misses.

“It’s disappointing and frustrating, nobody more than Greg, that thing hasn’t come back as fast as he would like, but he’s real close,” Pagano said. “I’d be shocked if he wasn’t back next week. I’m not going to make any promises or guarantees, obviously.”

Cassius Vaughn will continue to start in Toler's place.

Pagano also said Chris Rainey, whom the Colts signed Nov. 20, will return kickoffs against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. The Colts released David Reed earlier this week.

Here’s a breakdown of the rest of the injured players.
INDIANAPOLIS – The good news for the Indianapolis Colts is that they know Bruce Arians' Arizona Cardinals will throw the ball downfield a lot in Sunday's game. The Colts did the same thing under Arians last season.

The bad news is that Indianapolis' secondary has a tendency to give up big plays.

Houston’s Andre Johnson had nine catches for 229 yards and three touchdowns against the Colts on Nov. 3. St. Louis’ Tavon Austin had two catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns the following week.

Now the Colts get to face Arizona receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd and quarterback Carson Palmer, who threw for 419 yards against Jacksonville last weekend.

“Run it and throw it down the field as far as you can and complete a lot of them,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said about Arizona’s offense. “[Arians has] been doing it a long time. He’s a great playcaller. We all know that. You see a lot of similarities in there and he’s utilizing their talent very well.”

The struggling secondary may be without one of its starting cornerbacks for the fourth straight game. Greg Toler hasn’t practiced this week because of a groin injury. He wants to play Sunday because he spent his first four seasons with the Cardinals, but he tweaked his groin while working out Monday. Safety LaRon Landry also hasn’t practiced this week because of a toe injury, although he said he believes he'll play Sunday.

Vontae Davis and Cassius Vaughn, who started in place of Toler in his absence, will be matched up on Fitzgerald and Floyd, who have combined for 1,211 yards and nine touchdowns this season. The Cardinals became the first team since 1971 to have touchdown receptions of at least 80 and 90 yards in a season when Floyd scored on a 91-yard pass against Jacksonville.

“He’s a future Hall of Famer and he’s still playing at a high level and making plays, 45 catches and six touchdowns,” Pagano said about Fitzgerald. “Floyd and the rest of the guys, they got a bunch of skill guys, they got a bunch of playmakers. Carson’s doing a good job of spreading the wealth and getting the ball out to them.”

The Colts have to take advantage of Arizona’s weak offensive line and put pressure on Palmer. He’s thrown for 2,573 yards this season, but he’s also been picked off 15 times and sacked 27 times.

Colts linebacker Robert Mathis leads in the league with 13.5 sacks. Only three quarterbacks – Miami's Ryan Tannehill, Denver’s Peyton Manning and Houston’s Case Keenum – have thrown for more than 300 yards against Indianapolis this season.

“A heck of a quarterback who can throw the ball downfield,” Colts defensive lineman Cory Redding said. “Again, back end we got to challenge. And they’re up for it. Our guys, we don’t back down from a fight. We stand up, and even when everybody points us down and says we’re not going to do anything, that’s when we rise up the best and we go out there and showcase it. I believe my guys on the back end, our defensive unit, our DBs are going to step up and rise to the occasion. Everybody on the defense is going to rise up and play the ball game.”

Mailbag: Richardson to remain starter

November, 16, 2013