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LINEBACKER VERSATILITY GIVES POSITION COACH JEFF FITZGERALD ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES

Posted Jun 24, 2013

Intro: Jeff Fitzgerald has spent his last decade concocting packages for his linebacker position groups. Now in his second season in Indianapolis, Fitzgerald loves the potential he sees in a versatile group.



INDIANAPOLIS –Jeff Fitzgerald is entering his 13th straight NFL season as a linebackers coach.

Fitzgerald has coached some of the greatest linebackers in NFL history and his respect around the league is seen every February when he leads potential draftees through drills at the league combine.

People around the country can see Fitzgerald’s passion during those drills and that exuberance has carried over to this offseason thanks to the depth in the Colts linebacker corps.

Offseason additions at both the outside and inside linebacker spots has Fitzgerald eager to get things started in a little over a month at Colts training camp.

“I think overall we have a more complete group right now,” Fitzgerald said during OTAs. “We’ve got a lot of guys in the group that can do a lot of different things so there’s some overlap there.”

The flexibility at linebacker was seen all offseason with Fitzgerald moving pieces all around the four-position group.

“We’re cross-training some of the guys so that we can play them at different positions, because some of the guys have that ability,” Fitzgerald said.

“We have the guys from last year that have a year of learning under their belt in our system and we have new guys coming in as veterans that have football knowledge coming and are aware of things we are teaching.”

One question that Fitzgerald has no problem in answering comes when Bjoern Werner and the words “playing time” gets thrown around.

There’s no denying that Werner is apart of a talented outside linebacker group with Robert Mathis and Erik Walden among others.

That adds up to some unique looks from Fitzgerald’s linebackers that will certainly come in handy on the “money” down for defenses.

“We are going to have some good players sitting on the sidelines with us during games. We are going to have to give these guys different packages to get everybody involved,” Fitzgerald said.

“What happens is that when you have these type of tools, it allows you to be a little bit more creative with these things and third down is a big part of creation and devising different ways and means of doing things.”

The returnees at the linebacker position are highlighted by Mathis, a five-time Pro Bowler, and Jerrell Freeman, the franchise season record holder in tackles.

Throw in the offseason additions, and Fitzgerald is anxious to see everything he’s drawn on the board put into action.

“Last year with our guys, the slate was clean and we had to start over a little so it took a little bit of time. But those guys are stronger this year, with the additional guys that we have in the room, I’m really excited about it,” Fitzgerald said of his outlook for 2013.

“I think we have a good group that can do a lot of different things. There’s going to be some flexibility and job exchanges and things of that nature because we can. We have the right type of guys.”

 

 


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