INDIANAPOLIS – Back in his days playing for Stanford,
Football fans know a red practice jersey, worn by virtually every quarterback in the NFL, is another way of saying “don’t touch”.
Yellow usually indicates a “banged up” player, alerting teammates to hold up from going full speed.
However, for Howell, that jersey color had a different meaning.
“We actually put a yellow jersey on him in practice to remind him that he’s too hurt to create contact,” David Shaw, Stanford head coach, told SCV Sports back in 2011.
“Just to remind him to back off, because there’s only one way he knows how to play — full speed, face first.”
Howell isn’t quite moving at warp speed during Colts OTAs but that will only be revved up with training camp less than two months away.
The Colts will have a new safety in 2014 and Howell is the only returning safety, outside of
There are veterans, more known for their play on special teams, who will join Howell in the battle for Antoine Bethea’s spot.
“I always look forward to competition,” Howell says. “It’s just a great environment, a great opportunity for you to reveal who you are. It reveals part of your character---how do you act under pressure? How do you act when there’s competition? How do you treat people that you are competing with?
“Clearly, this is the biggest opportunity that I personally have had in my life,”
Last year, Howell had a limited opportunity to standout for the Colts coaches.
He started three games in September and October while LaRon Landry was sidelined due to a toe injury.
Colts fans will probably remember the blocked field goal Howell returned for a touchdown against Seattle but it’s the game against San Francisco where he performed admirably near his old college stomping grounds.
“I wasn’t perfect by any means but I think the coaches did see some ability in me,” Howell said of his play in 2013.
“I earned a little bit of trust but I know I have to earn a lot more trust. Trust is earned over an extended period of time, not just through flashes here and there. Ultimately, I’m looking to earn a lot more trust and show that I can be accountable and I can be a leader.”
The Colts saw something in Howell late in the 2012 season when they plucked him off the Buffalo Bills practice squad with starter Tom Zbikowski injured.
Howell was a sponge towards Antoine Bethea. In order to play at a high level in 2014, Howell knows his knowledge of the playbook must rival what Bethea brought to the Colts defense.
A few weeks back, the Colts did not use any of their five draft picks on a safety, despite many mock drafts having Indianapolis taking a safety with one of the team’s top choices.
As Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano conducted their post-draft press conference, the safety question was on the horizon.
Pagano, a former defensive backs coach, points back to what he saw on that September afternoon in the Bay Area as to why he feels confident in the backend of the Colts secondary.
“All I think back to is Delano Howell. We went out and beat a pretty good football team. He started at safety that game and had (seven tackles), was pretty productive in that ball game,” Pagano said.
“He’s not the only one (competing at safety). We’ve got guys in-house that will be great competition there.”