Indianapolis Colts: Sergio Brown

Examining the Indianapolis Colts' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)
This is the safest position on the roster for the Colts. They plan to always keep a veteran backup if Luck ever goes down with an injury.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

The Colts will have a solid running combination if -- and we’re saying if until proven wrong -- Richardson can bounce back from a poor first season in Indianapolis and Bradshaw and Ballard can stay injury-free. Havili, a fullback, gets the edge over Mario Harvey, who switched from linebacker to fullback during offseason workouts.

RECEIVERS (5)

The final receiver spot will come down to Rogers and Griff Whalen. If the Colts want to play it safe, Whalen is the guy because he’s familiar with Luck and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, but Rogers has the size and speed the team likes. There’s also the possibility of the Colts keeping six receivers.

TIGHT ENDS (4)

Allen, who missed all but one game in 2013, and Fleener have the potential to be one of the top tight end duos in the league. Doyle and Saunders are both familiar with the system after backing up Fleener in Allen’s absence last season.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

There are plenty of questions surrounding the offensive line outside of tackles Castonzo and Cherilus. The one thing general manager Ryan Grigson wanted with this group is depth. The Colts have plenty of it.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (6)

Like the offensive line, the Colts want depth on the defensive line so they can constantly rotate in players, so come the fourth quarter they still have fresh legs to get after the opponent. Jones was the key offseason acquisition for the Colts. Chapman showed flashes last season; now he needs to do it every snap that he’s on the field.

LINEBACKERS (10)

All eyes will be on outside linebacker as the Colts look to find a replacement for Mathis, who is suspended for the first four games of the season. Werner gets the first crack at starting in Mathis’ spot. McNary is a player for whom Grigson has high expectations. It’ll be up to defensive coordinator Greg Manusky on how he uses McNary.

DEFENSIVE BACKS (10)

It’s anybody’s guess how the secondary will perform. It’s anybody’s guess who will start alongside Landry at safety. It looked like it would be Howell for most of the offseason, but the Colts signed the veteran Adams in June. Can Toler finally remain healthy? Can Davis live up to his contract? So many questions with no answers at the moment.

SPECIALIST

This only changes if an injury occurs.

Position battle: Safety

June, 26, 2014
Jun 26
8:00
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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.
INDIANAPOLIS -- New Indianapolis Colts safety Mike Adams was part of the Denver Broncos team that reached the Super Bowl last season.

But there Adams sat, waiting for a team to sign him during the offseason. He waited. Waited some more. He waited so long that anxiety started to set in. Adams, 33, had never been out of work this long during his 10-year NFL career.

Adams’ phone finally rang last week when the Colts put safety Corey Lynch on injured reserve.

[+] EnlargeMike Adams
Adam Hunger/USA TODAY SportsVeteran safety Mike Adams has started 73 games in his 10-year career.
"The pieces are in place and we have a chance to hoist (the trophy) at the end," Adams said. "That’s my goal. I came here to win. That’s Chuck Pagano’s philosophy and that’s what they want to do here. That’s what it all boils down."

Adams has gone from being unemployed to having a chance to be one of the Colts' starting safeties when they take on his former team, the Broncos, in the season opener on Sept. 7.

"Bottom line is I want to compete for a job," Adams said. "I want to earn these guys' respect. I’m going in (Year 11). Its’ a different locker room, new system I have to learn. I want to earn that. I don’t want it given to me. I told coach and I told the (general manager Ryan Grigson), 'I appreciate you telling me I don’t have the job. I appreciate that.' I was the underdog my whole career. I love competing and proving people wrong."

Safety has been a legit concern for the Colts since long-time fixture Antoine Bethea signed with San Francisco on the first day of the free agent signing period in March.

The Colts didn’t address the position during free agency or the draft. They constantly talked about having confidence in Delano Howell, who has been working with the first team during the offseason workouts.

But Howell lacks experience on a defense that was too inconsistent last season. The same goes for Sergio Brown, David Sims and Colt Anderson.

Enter Adams.

He has started 73 games in his 10-year career. The question about Adams is how much does he have left in his tank at the age of 33. He admits his age might have caused teams to shy away a little bit.

"I feel like I’m 26,” he quickly says. "You're going to see the way I move. Once guys see my film. I was talking to the GM and he said, 'I had to watch your film' and he said, 'You’re 33?' and I was like, 'yeah I am 33,' but when you watch the film it doesn’t look like I’m 33."

Adams is versatile. He can also play cornerback, nickelback or be the dime.

Now he has to see if he’s versatile enough to get the number he wants. Adams, who currently has No. 42, has worn No. 20 throughout his career, but cornerback Darius Butler has that number.

"I’ll have to sweet-talk him," Adams said. "Have to take him out to dinner; wine and dine him."
INDIANAPOLIS -- One of the most consistent things that have come out of Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano's mouth this offseason is the desire to have competition for playing time.

Who knows how Corey Lynch would have fit into the competition for the starting safety spot next season, but his season-ending injury intensifies the battle for that starting spot.

The Colts signed veteran safety Mike Adams over the weekend to take Lynch’s spot on the roster.

Adams, 33, is past his prime, but he has something Delano Howell, Colt Anderson, David Sims and Sergio Brown don’t have: experience.

Adams has started 73 of the 146 games he’s appeared in during his 10-year career. Howell, Anderson, Sims and Brown have combined for 13 starts in their career. Adams played in all 16 games for a third straight season last season while with the Denver Broncos.

It's unclear how much Adams has left because we’re in the middle of June and he just now got signed. Adams told Sirius XM NFL Radio recently, “This is the longest I’ve ever waited to get picked up, so the anxiety is starting to pick up now.”

Howell has the inside track to start alongside LaRon Landry at the safety, but the Colts now have some added insurance in Adams in case Howell can’t lock down the position.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Delano Howell's starting résumé consists of three games during his two seasons with the Indianapolis Colts.

Now Howell appears to be in line to be the Colts' starting safety next season, replacing long-time starter Antoine Bethea , who signed with San Francisco in March.

Howell
That became even more evident when the Colts decided against selecting a safety in the draft. Howell will have some competition for the spot, but the job is his to lose. Sergio Brown, Corey Lynch and Colt Anderson are in the mix for the job, too.

A key for Howell will be whether he's able to be interchangeable with Landry and also have good cover skills -- the main two things coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson are looking for.

"All I think back to is Delano Howell," Pagano said. "We went out and beat a pretty good football team (San Francisco), I think he started at safety that game and had, I don't know, six, seven, eight tackles or something, was pretty productive in that ball game. He returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown against Seattle. He's not the only one. We've got guys in-house that will be great competition there."

Howell started three games in place of the injured LaRon Landry last season. The Colts won two of those three games. Howell totaled 21 tackles in his three starts.

Howell is the quiet teammate in the locker room, the one you have to seek out because he's not a jokester or one who's always talking. He's the same soft-spoken teammate quarterback Andrew Luck had while at Stanford.

"Very much the sort of strong, silent type, the Clint Eastwood type," Luck said. "Say a little, do a lot. He's been that way for a long time, which makes it really fun to play with him."

The Colts think the signing of linebacker D'Qwell Jackson and defensive lineman Arthur Jones will help ease some of the burden on the secondary. Bethea ended his time with the Colts by having four straight seasons with at least 100 tackles.

"I feel good about the guys that are here and I think at the end of the day, we bolstered our front seven," Pagano said. "The better the front seven is, the more pressure you can put on the passer, it certainly helps the back end."
INDIANAPOLIS -- The assumption heading into the draft was that the Indianapolis Colts would use one of their five picks on a safety.

Seventeen safeties were picked during the three-day draft. None of them were selected by the Colts.

"There’s a small handful of guys in this draft that we felt like we could go get, it just didn’t happen," Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said. "But it was not a deep safety class and if there was a safety we liked, we would have took one."

So as of now, in-house players Delano Howell, Sergio Brown, Corey Lynch and Colt Anderson, who have combined to start 22 games, are the stop candidates to man the starting safety spot opposite of LaRon Landry next season. Longtime Colts safety Antoine Bethea signed with the San Francisco 49ers in March.

"You don’t just because of need go reach and try to grab and fill a need when the value’s not there," coach Chuck Pagano said. "I feel good about the guys that are here and I think at the end of the day, we bolstered our front seven with acquiring D’Qwell Jackson and Art Jones and the two defensive players we picked up. The better that front seven is, the more pressure you can put on the passer, it certainly helps the back end. We’ll be fine."
INDIANAPOLIS -- Lost in the talk of Phil Costa deciding to retire before playing a game with the Indianapolis Colts, the team signed safety Colt Anderson and restricted free agent cornerback Josh Gordy signed his qualifying offer.

Anderson started six of the 48 games he played with the Philadelphia Eagles from 2010-13. He led the Eagles in special teams tackles with a career-high 16 last season. Anderson joins Sergio Brown, Delano Howell and Corey Lynch in competing to start alongside LaRon Landry at safety next season. Anderson, though, will more than likely end up being a special teams player for the Colts.

Gordy's one-year qualifying offer is worth $1.43 million. He had nine tackles, three passes defended and one interception last season for the Colts. Gordy's best defensive play of the season came in the Colts' 28-point comeback against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC wild-card playoff game.

Gordy, playing in place of the injured Greg Toler, defended Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe perfectly along the sideline on fourth-and-11 late in the fourth quarter. Bowe caught the pass, but he couldn't get both feet inbounds, giving the ball back to the Colts and sealing the game for them.

Gordy has a good chance to be Indianapolis' fourth cornerback behind Toler, Vontae Davis and Darius Butler next season.
 
INDIANAPOLIS -- I caught up with Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN's NFL draft expert, on Thursday to talk about the safeties in this year's draft.

The Indianapolis Colts will have their first pick at No. 59 in the second round. Coach Chuck Pagano said safety is a position they'll look to address.

Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville's Calvin Pryor are the two best safeties and both should be taken in the first round.

Kiper said Jimmie Ward out of Northern Illinois, the same school Colts practice squad quarterback Chandler Harnish attended, and Terrence Brooks out of Florida State could be available when Indianapolis selects in the second round.

Ward had 89 tackles, six interceptions and a sack last season. Brooks had 48 tackles and two interceptions for the national champion Seminoles last season.

“You can make an argument (Ward) is the best cover safety in this draft,” Kiper said. “He’s coming off the (foot) injury, but had a very good career. He has great ball skills and real good hands for the interception. The intimidator isn’t necessarily needed anymore, the big hitters, you don’t need that (at safety). Ward is a decent tackler, but he doesn’t have tremendous size. The days of big intimidating safeties are about over.”

Former Philadelphia Eagles safety Kurt Coleman is scheduled to visit the Colts on Friday, as they continue to try to find a replacement for Antoine Bethea, who signed with San Francisco last month. Delano Howell, Sergio Brown and Corey Lynch are the in-house candidates for the Colts.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Safety Kurt Coleman will visit the Indianapolis Colts on Friday.

Coleman
That usually means one thing: The Colts have serious interest in him.

Colts general manager Ryan Grigson isn’t one to bring players in for visits without them leaving with a deal. Just ask receiver Hakeem Nicks.

Coleman, a former seventh-round pick, started 29 games from 2010-12 with the Philadelphia Eagles before not starting a game for them last season. Coleman’s best season was in 2012 when he had 93 tackles and two interceptions.

Grigson was with the Eagles in a number of different capacities from 2004-11, and is well aware of Coleman's capabilities.

Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star pointed out that Coleman was involved in a helmet-to-helmet hit that knocked Colts receiver Austin Collie out of the Nov. 7, 2010, game in Philadelphia.

Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano recently pointed out that Delano Howell, Sergio Brown and Corey Lynch are options to start alongside LaRon Landry at safety. Longtime Colts safety Antoine Bethea signed with San Francisco last month. Pagano also indicated that they’ll look to select a safety in the May 8-10 draft.
INDIANAPOLIS -- The question was going to come up the moment the Houston Texans released safety Danieal Manning on Monday.

Manning
Do the Indianapolis Colts have any interest in Manning?

That's a legitimate question considering the Colts lost Antoine Bethea to San Francisco three weeks ago and don't have a clear-cut starter there yet.

But the answer is no, the Colts do not have any interest in Manning.

Not yet at least.

Things could change if Manning remains on the free-agent market for a while, but his price tag is too high at the moment. Manning was scheduled to make around $4.5 million with the Texans and he may be looking for a deal around that same price range. The 31-year-old reportedly is meeting Tuesday with the Cincinnati Bengals and Thursday with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Manning played in only six games last season because of a knee injury after playing at least 13 in his first seven seasons, including all 16 games four times.

During the NFL owners meetings last week, Colts coach Chuck Pagano talked about safeties Delano Howell and Sergio Brown on the roster as possible replacements for Bethea and that they will look at selecting one in the draft May 8-10.

The Colts have about $13.4 million in salary-cap space remaining if they do decide to make a run at a free-agent safety.
INDIANAPOLIS -- A day after writing that the Indianapolis Colts still need to find a replacement for long-time starting safety Antoine Bethea, general manager Ryan Grigson didn't talk like a person who is in a rush to go get one on the free-agent market.

Grigson spoke highly of a player currently on the roster.

"You lose a player like Antoine Bethea, obviously that's going to be an area of concern, need," he said. "We have some players sitting there at that position. Delano Howell was no slouch when he played last year. When he came in, for a guy that was on Buffalo's practice squad the year prior, he did a heck of a job. We will of course look at the draft. We are still looking at some other options. We want to solidify every position group possible the best we can.

"You lose a stud like Antoine who meant so much to this organization, obviously it's going to leave a mark, but at the same time, you can't keep everyone. That's just the harsh reality of this business."

Bethea agreed to a deal March 11 with the San Francisco 49ers.

Howell started three games in place of the injured LaRon Landry last season. It only took those three games for Howell to prove he's capable of stepping in and playing well if given the opportunity. Sergio Brown, Corey Lynch and Davis Sims are also safeties on the roster.

Colts free-agency tracker

March, 19, 2014
Mar 19
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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
 

INDIANAPOLIS -- Vontae Davis had to his due diligence and listen to other teams.

But deep down inside Davis knew he wanted to return to the Indianapolis Colts. Davis knew the Colts were more than just a football team that practiced together and took the field together on Sundays. There's a brotherhood inside the organization, the kind Davis didn't have in his three seasons with the Miami Dolphins.

That's why brotherhood -- and a whole lot of money -- brought Davis back to the Colts. He agreed to a four-year, $39 million contract that included $20 million guaranteed.

“I hate for it to be the business side,” Davis said. “If there wasn't a business side of football and it wasn't about business, I would still choose to be back with the Colts. So that just says a lot about how strong the organization is. My teammates are like brothers. It's a brotherhood. When you go to the Colts, it's something that you hold with you for the rest of your life.”

Davis was the primary target for the Colts when it came to re-signing their own players. He has the talent to be one of the top cornerbacks in the league. It's simply a matter of putting it all together and avoiding lapses in his play.

“He is a rare talent at 25 years of age who is still ascending as a player,” Colts GM Ryan Grigson said. “We are excited to see him reach new heights in his career and help us attain our ultimate goal.”

The Colts showed their faith in Davis by giving him such a lucrative deal. It's said with money comes pressure.

Not so, Davis said.

"You can't let it impact (your play)," he said. "If I was making a dollar, it wouldn't matter. You just have to go out there and play. The organization has trust in me enough to obviously bring me back. I just have to continue to work hard and I think everything will work out for itself.”

The Colts had a solid tandem at cornerback with Davis and Greg Toler -- when he was healthy -- last season. Davis fed off of Toler's aggressive approach. Davis' best game was against the Denver Broncos when he had five tackles and two passes defended. He was so worked up that he referred to Peyton Manning as New England's Tom Brady in a postgame interview on the field.

Davis joined linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, defensive lineman Arthur Jones and safety/special teams ace Sergio Brown as defensive players the Colts signed on the first day of free agency.

“Every team, coming into the season is a new year,” Davis said. “We have to come in and work hard to get back to where we were at last year. I think just moving forward, coach (Chuck) Pagano, Grigson, they're doing a great job of building this team up.”

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