NFL Nation: Kerwynn Williams

Colts' performance-based pay

March, 25, 2014
Mar 25
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Nine Indianapolis Colts players received performance-based incentives for more than $100,000 each during the 2013 season. Linebacker Jerrell Freeman and offensive line Hugh Thornton both earned more than $218,000.

The incentives are based off playing time and a player’s base salary. Veteran backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck received only $827.05 out of the $3.46 million which teams are allotted. The money usually benefits minimum-salaried free-agent signings and players on their first NFL contracts who end up playing a lot.

Here’s a breakdown of the top-10 performance bonuses on the Colts.

LB Jerrell Freeman $248,772.35

OL Hugh Thornton $218,167.75

WR T.Y. Hilton $162,808.35

FB Stanley Havili $132,945.28

TE Jack Doyle $128,223.40

DE Ricardo Mathews $118,490.40

LB Cam Johnson $109,230.89

WR Griff Whalen $101,056.36

LB Kelvin Sheppard $100,435.98

LB Mario Harvey $92,307.29

Here’s a breakdown of the bottom-10 performance bonuses on the roster.

WR Reggie Wayne $6,651.65

TE Dwayne Allen $5,711.86

C Khaled Holmes $4,695.54

TE Justice Cunningham $3,913.60

OL Donald Thomas $3,384.86

K Adam Vinatieri $2,738.82

RB Robert Hughes $2,618.30

RB Kerwynn Williams $2,494.16

OL Thomas Austin $1,816.86

QB Matt Hasselbeck $827.05

Ricky Jean Francois out against Jaguars

September, 25, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Colts will be without starting defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

Jean Francois injured his groin in the second half of their win over San Francisco last weekend.

“Groin injury looks to be a little bit worse than anticipated,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “(He) might be out a week or so.”

The Colts gave an indication that Jean Francois’ injury would cost him some time when they re-signed defensive lineman Lawrence Guy on Tuesday.

Jean Francois wasn’t the only Colt not to practice Wednesday. Safety Antoine Bethea (toe), running back Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) and safety LaRon Landry (ankle) also missed practice. Bradshaw’s injury is surprising because Pagano didn’t mention him when he ran down the list of injured players during the media session.

Linebacker Pat Angerer (knee) and center Samson Satele (elbow) both were limited in practice after missing the 49ers game. Satele will start with Mike McGynn moving back to guard if he’s able to play against the Jaguars.

The Colts signed receiver Da’Rick Rogers and running back Kerwynn Williams to the practice squad Wednesday. Both players were released from the 53-man roster Tuesday. To make room for Williams and Rodgers, the Colts released receiver Danny Coale and running back Miguel Maysonet from the practice squad.

'Next man up' with Vick Ballard out

September, 13, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS -- The initial reaction was complete silence. The first thought, of course, was on Vick Ballard. The second-year running back cut through the hole in a non-contact drill in practice Thursday when his foot got stuck in the ground.

“Freakish” was the adjective used by Ballard’s teammates and coach Chuck Pagano when they saw him go down.

“Nobody touched him,” running back Ahmad Bradshaw said. “Everybody saw it. They just gasped. He was going through the hole on a team drill. He was trying to weave through the line. His foot got caught in the ground and it happened.”

[+] EnlargeAhmad Bradshaw
Pat Lovell/USA TODAY SportsAhmad Bradshaw will have to carry the load in the running game for the Colts.
The Colts’ worse fears were revealed when the MRI showed an ACL tear in Ballard’s right knee. Ballard left the team facility without addressing the media Friday.

“We all know Vick was headed toward having a fabulous year,” Pagano said. “We know and understand injuries are part of this game. We’ll deal with it. Nobody handles adversity quite like this team in this locker room. Vick will get through this and with his mindset and his work ethic he’ll come back stronger than ever in 2014.”

There was a lot of disappointment inside the locker room for Ballard, who led the team in rushing last season and in its Week 1 win over Oakland. But the Colts know there’s no time to sit back and feel bad for themselves. It’s time for that "next man up" mentality that they’ve used when dealing with adversity for so many years.

“Sad to see,” veteran receiver Reggie Wayne said. “Whenever you see, not only your teammate, anybody in this league suffer an injury like that, it’s sad to see. Vick was working hard. I had a little talk with him. I told him, 'I’ve had had the injury before, keep your head up. We’ll fight for you.' It’s just a tough injury, but we all know it’s this part of this business.”

The original plan was for Ballard to team with Bradshaw to give them a formidable one-two punch in the backfield to complement the trio of receivers and two talented tight ends. Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said earlier this week that Ballard and Bradshaw were going to split the carries 50-50 this season. The Colts averaged almost five yards a carry against Oakland last week.

That plan is now scratched.

Bradshaw will start in Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins and fifth-year running back Donald Brown will back him up. Rookie Kerwynn Williams will be brought up off the practice squad to be the team’s third running back.

Bradshaw, who signed with the Colts after spending his first six seasons with the New York Giants, sat out the preseason while recovering from offseason foot surgery. He’ll get the bulk of the carries in the backfield now.

“I’m ready,” Bradshaw said. “That’s just what happens when this happens. I’ve been working hard for this. You never know what can happen. Next man up.”

The Colts don’t need flash from Brown, a former first-round pick. They want consistency from him, something that hasn’t been the case in his career.

The last thing the Colts need is for their running game to become the weak link in the offense.

“I think we have all the right components in place in all the right places to bounce back from this,” Wayne said.

Observation deck: Colts-Bengals

August, 29, 2013
CINCINNATI -- No Andrew Luck. No Reggie Wayne. No Cory Redding. No Antoine Bethea or Robert Mathis, either.

In what’s the biggest yawner of the preseason because starting players rarely play, the preseason finale against the Cincinnati Bengals was all about borderline players trying to make one final impression on front office officials and the coaching staff before the 53-man roster has to be set by Saturday evening.

Here are other observations from the Indianapolis Colts’ 27-10 loss to the Bengals:
  • Third-string quarterback Chandler Harnish played for all but the first two series of the game. He didn’t do anything to help his case to play behind Luck and Matt Hasselbeck. But that’s not surprising, because Harnish struggled the entire preseason. Harnish started 2-of-6 but managed complete six of his next seven passes to finish 8-of-13 for 55 yards and a touchdown. He was also sacked twice. Harnish’s best bet is that he’ll be brought back to be the team’s practice-squad quarterback.
  • Rookie running back Kerwynn Williams took advantage of Ahmad Bradshaw not playing and Vick Ballard getting only a handful of snaps to be the lone bright spot on offense. The seventh-round pick rushed for 92 yards on 18 carries. Williams will likely be the fourth running back on the depth chart. He’ll also be the team’s primary kick returner. "He's got the heart of a lion," coach Chuck Pagano said. "He's produced really every week and made big plays. He's put enough out there so you have to give it some heavy consideration."
  • Safety Larry Asante followed up his 48-yard interception return for a touchdown against Cleveland last weekend by getting a sack and also recovering a fumble in the first half. Asante had a game-high 13 tackles. He had only four tackles total in the first three preseason games. Asante's play the past two games keeps him in the mix to make the roster as one of the safeties.
  • Receiver/kick returner David Reed, acquired from Baltimore on Aug. 21, left the game with a concussion.
  • Linebacker Caesar Rayford stood at his locker still in his pads mad at himself long after the game. The rookie seemed to be in a good position to make the team with a team-high five sacks heading into Thursday. But he wasn't pleased that he didn't close out the preseason the way he wanted to. He had only two tackles against the Bengals, with one of the tackles being in the open field. Rayford did enough early in the preseason to earn a roster spot.
  • Linebacker Daniel Adongo, the rugby player attempting to play football for the first time, didn’t play during the preseason because Pagano wasn’t comfortable putting him the game. That didn’t stop a press box announcer from saying Adongo had a special-teams tackle in the first half. A No. 46 got the tackle for the Colts, but it wasn’t Adongo. It was tight end Dominique Jones. Jones later caught a touchdown pass from Harnish.
What’s next: The Colts open the regular season against the Oakland Raiders at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Sept. 8.
INDIANAPOLIS – If coach Chuck Pagano’s comments are any indication, you shouldn’t expect to see quarterback Andrew Luck or any other of the Indianapolis Colts’ key players on the field when they take on the Cincinnati Bengals in their preseason finale on Thursday.

“We’d like to get everybody significant amount of reps,” Pagano said. “Some guys will get less than other guys and there might be a few cases where a guy won’t play at all."

Pagano later added that playing time will be based on age and health.

What about Luck, coach?

“If he gets a series, that would be great. If he gets nothing, that would be great,” Pagano said.

That sure sounds like Luck will be on the sideline wearing a baseball cap and sipping out of a Gatorade cup during the game Thursday.

Luck played one series and threw one pass in the preseason finale last year as a rookie. The Colts won’t get anything out of him doing the same thing this year.

It’ll be a good thing if players like Luck, Reggie Wayne, Robert Mathis and Cory Redding don’t play against the Bengals.

There’s no need for them to. They’ve already proven they’re ready for the regular season. Luck went 29-of-44 for 322 yds, four touchdowns and an interception during the preseason.

Thursday is about the borderline players making one final run at the 53-man roster. Players like Caesar Rayford, Griff Whalen and Kerwynn Williams should get a significant amount of playing time.

What to watch for: Colts-Browns

August, 24, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS -- The third preseason game is the one to keep an eye on. It’s the game where you can get a better indication of where the team stands because the starting unit usually plays into the third quarter.

That’s the plan Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano has with his starters in Saturday’s game against the Cleveland Browns.

Here’s what to watch for:

1. A running attack: I'm like most of you, I'm waiting for the Colts' power-running game, discussed by offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton in training camp, to show up. The Colts haven't even teased us with anything yet. They're averaging 3.1 yards a carry in the preseason. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw won't join Vick Ballard in the backfield Saturday, because the team doesn’t want to rush Bradshaw back on the field after practicing in pads for the first time this week. Not having tight ends Coby Fleener (knee) and Dwayne Allen (foot) to block will make things more difficult for the Colts. So in other words, you likely won't see anything that resembles a power-running game until at least Week 1 against Oakland. Good thing quarterback Andrew Luck (13-of-19 and a 128.8 passer rating) has looked sharp in the preseason.

2. Stopping the run: Is giving up 115.5 yards a game on the ground in two preseason games bad? Yes, but you also have to take into consideration that the starters spent the majority of those games on the sideline watching. What is alarming, though, is that the defense has given up runs of 17, 15 and 21 yards on three of their opponent’s first four runs of the game. The starters will be tested again against Browns running back Trent Richardson. You have every reason to wonder if the defense can improve on being 29th in the league in rushing yards allowed last season if Richardson has a strong game against the starters.

3. Debut time: Speaking of the defense, it will have the starting unit on paper together for the first time in the preseason. Safety LaRon Landry (knee) and linebacker Pat Angerer (foot) are expected to play. Landry will join a secondary -- Antoine Bethea, Vontae Davis and Greg Toler -- that has been solid in the preseason. Toler, a free-agent signing in the offseason, had an interception against the New York Giants on Aug 18. Angerer and Landry are familiar with the defensive scheme, it’s a matter of them getting game reps, especially Landry. Angerer, who spent the first part of training camp on the physically unable to perform list while working his way back from offseason foot surgery, could get between 15 and 20 snaps. Rookie guard Hugh Thornton is also making his preseason debut. Thornton, who injured his ankle right before training camp, will likely back up Jeff Linkenbach at guard.

4. Final audition: Rosters must be trimmed from 90 to 75 players by Tuesday. Keep an eye on the receiver spot. The Colts are still looking for a fourth and fifth receiver. LaVon Brazill, currently the fourth receiver, is suspended the first four games of the season. Jeremy Kelley, Nathan Palmer, Jabin Sambrano, Lanear Sampson and Griff Whalen aren’t taking advantage of the opportunity. There is a reason why general manager Ryan Grigson went out and signed receiver Maurice Williams this week.

5. Special teams: Rookie Kerwynn Williams, Sambrano and Cassius Vaughn have handled kickoff return duties in the first two games. David Reed might get a shot to return kicks Saturday. He was acquired in the trade that sent running Delone Carter to Baltimore this week. Reed led the league by averaging 29.3 yards a kickoff return in 2010.
Training camp competitions for the Indianapolis Colts are not shaping up the way general manager Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano likely imagined them.

As Phillip B. Wilson points out in his blog at the Indianapolis Star, injuries are already having an impact.

Brandon McKinney is on IR with a continuing knee problem, so nose tackle looks like it’ll belong to Aubrayo Franklin and Josh Chapman, with Ricky Jean Francois able to help. What we thought could be a pretty good battle might be sorted out already.

Rookie right guard Hugh Thornton was expected to challenge incumbent Mike McGlynn, but Thornton has a boot on his right foot and has not practiced yet.

Pat Angerer is on PUP, meaning the second inside linebacker spot isn’t as much of a competition as it might be later, with Kelvin Sheppard apparently outranking Kavell Conner by so much that Wilson doesn't even mention Conner.

Rookie center Khaled Holmes might still give Samson Satele a fight at center, but Holmes had an ankle issue at USC and injured the same ankle on Tuesday.

Running back is still very interesting. Provided Ahmad Bradshaw is back to himself in time for the regular season, I’m not sure his presence on PUP with a still-healing foot hurts the competition at the spot. It might actually help. We know Vick Ballard will be second at worst, and it seems likely Kerwynn Williams will be fourth. The extra snaps could allow the staff maximum opportunity to gauge Donald Brown and Delone Carter.

While having virtually everyone good to go the first week of camp is ideal, camp injuries are inevitable. Maybe Thornton and Holmes don't miss much at all. Perhaps some of these guys will emerge in relative short order and still get into position battles the way we envisioned.

But if guys who are on the field now like McGlynn, Sheppard and Satele perform consistently well, they’ve got a chance to get a tight grip on jobs before their competition even takes the field.
NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

How does each AFC South team look at running back, and what still needs to be done?

Houston: Led by Arian Foster, Houston is a run-first team, and just about everything the Texans do on offense stems from their rushing attack. Foster is a great fit for the Texans’ scheme and is a high-quality receiver as well. He is still among the best backs in the NFL, but he carried the ball 351 times last season and has 1,115 touches over the past three years, including 159 receptions. The Texans are in a very interesting situation with Foster’s backup, Ben Tate. Tate has been highly productive when given the chance and is a free agent after this season. He has a career average of 5.1 yards per carry and is only 24. Should Houston take a great deal of the strain off Foster, or pound Foster into the ground and lock up Tate? Cierre Wood and especially Ray Graham are two interesting undrafted free agents who could step into a backup role in 2014. Watch these two intently this preseason.

Indianapolis: Vick Ballard is a no-nonsense runner who was more than serviceable in his rookie season. He never will be considered one the best players at his position, but he gets the job done, especially considering how dangerous Indianapolis’ passing attack should become. Donald Brown will back up Ballard but continues to underwhelm. Brown struggles to stay on the field, doesn’t offer enough as a receiver and lacks big-play ability as a runner. The Colts used a fourth-round pick in 2011 on Delone Carter, who also has been underwhelming. He has good size and some power but is slow-footed and offers little in the passing game, which won’t do in this offense. Which brings us to one of my favorite picks in this year’s draft, Kerwynn Williams. Indianapolis’ seventh-round pick isn’t real big, but he is extremely fast and an exceptional receiver. I was blown away that he lasted so long in the draft. I am not exaggerating when I say I see Darren Sproles in Williams. Think Andrew Luck & Co. would put a Sproles clone to good use in this passing attack?

Jacksonville: After being quite durable for his exceptional career, Maurice Jones-Drew appeared in just six games in 2012. He is 28 years old, has withstood a lot of punishment and is coming off a major injury. And of course, with Jacksonville’s anemic passing attack, the Jaguars’ opponents will be keying on shutting down Jones-Drew first and foremost in 2013. At his best, Jones-Drew is an exceptional all-around player and among the best backs in the league, but I have my doubts if we will see him be the same difference-maker again. The Jaguars added Justin Forsett to be Jones-Drew’s immediate backup and drafted former University of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, who they have listed as a running back. Forsett has had some good moments in this league but is a spot player only. What Robinson will bring to the table is anyone’s guess, but he has extreme gimmick potential and could excel as a runner, receiver or return man. But moving from quarterback to running back is not easy. He runs very high by running back standards and I doubt he can withstand a great amount of punishment in a traditional running back role, although Robinson is anything but traditional.

Tennessee: The Titans added Shonn Greene to back up starter Chris Johnson. Greene gets what is blocked, but little more. One thing he does bring to the table that Tennessee has lacked of late is excellent short-yardage production. He also could help keep Johnson fresh. But overall, the Titans spent way too much on Greene ($10 million over three years). Johnson will turn 28 in September. He started last season remarkably slow but picked it up dramatically later in the year. Johnson probably will never again approach 2,000 rushing yards in a season, but he has eclipsed 1,000 in all five of his seasons and finished the 2012 season with an impressive 4.5-yard average. Johnson has missed only one start in his career and averages 46 catches per season to go along with his rare open-field abilities. The third-string back is Jalen Parmele. Few are familiar with Parmele, but he does everything well and is a great guy to have on the roster for many reasons.
Vick Ballard finished his rookie season with 12 consecutive starts at running back, 211 carries, 814 yards and a highlight reel diving, corkscrew touchdown to win an overtime game in Tennessee.

In his second year, he’s in line to continue as the lead back for the Indianapolis Colts, who will also have Donald Brown, Delone Carter and seventh-round pick Kerwynn Williams in the backfield mix.

It remains to be seen just how much new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton will look to split up the workload for the team’s running backs.

“It’s always nice to have a couple guys, a change of pace guy,” coach Chuck Pagano said recently. “But certainly at the end of the year with Donnie hurt and the way Vick came on and the way he was running, he was getting the lion’s share of the snaps. At this point, yeah, he’s sitting there as the lead guy. But Donnie’s in great shape and healthy and looks fantastic to this point in the offseason program.

“Can Vick be an every-down guy? Yeah. Can Donnie be an every-down guy? Yeah. They are different types of runners and are more than capable on third down, knowing the protections and picking up blitzers and being effective once they get out to catch the football and doing those things out of the backfield."

Ballard and Brown should be able to complement each other. Carter can be insurance for Ballard and Williams might be an alternate change up for Brown.

“Vick is a solid, solid guy; Donnie is a home run hitter,” Pagano said. “If he gets the edge and hits a crease, he can take it the distance. For Vick, look at that last drive of the regular season against the Texans: We got the ball with 9:46 on the clock, we ran 12 plays, 11 runs, and we ended up taking a knee. Vick took the lion’s share of carries on that drive. He just keeps getting stronger, the more carries he has the better he gets.”

Under Hamilton the backs are sure to be used more as pass-catchers. Last season with Bruce Arians calling the plays, backs accounted for just 34 catches -- only 10 percent of the team’s receptions.

Ballard led the group with 17, including the one he turned into that catch and run twisting TD at LP Field for that 19-13 win over the Titans.

He could be featured in a much bigger way in the revised passing game.

Mel Kiper Jr.'s early reviews

April, 28, 2013
You can’t grade a draft class on production the day after it is finished being put together.

But America demands grades, so Mel Kiper Jr. offers them Insider.

He bases them on how teams answered these three questions:

" How much overall talent did a team add based on board position?
" How effectively did they address key personnel needs?
" How efficient were they in maneuvering on the draft board?

Jacksonville Jaguars

Overall grade: B-plus

One thought from Kiper Jr.: Johnathan Cyprien was one of the best safeties in college football last season, and should be the starter at strong safety in Week 1. Dwayne Gratz is a physical corner who should also start immediately.

Tennessee Titans

Overall grade: B-plus

One thought from Kiper Jr.: “The Titans may not have any idea what will become of Jake Locker. I don't know either. But they sure as heck should be better running the ball in 2013 behind the line they're building, and between whatever pressure that takes off Locker and the addition of yet another receiver, they can say they gave him a chance.”

Houston Texans

Overall grade: B

One thought from Kiper Jr.:Trevardo Williams was a steal for me. Wade Phillips can get him on the field because Williams can rush the passer and was hugely productive.”

Indianapolis Colts

Overall grade: C-plus

One thought from Kiper Jr.: “One pick I think could help now and be a great option for this offense is Kerwynn Williams. He's a speedster, and if they can find him touches you're going to see some explosive plays.”