ANDERSON – When
The third-round pick from Auburn displayed a veteran calm, poise and sense of purpose, not to mention a level of play, that prompted then Head Coach Jim Caldwell to note that it seemed as if Powers had been here before and that he possessed a maturity well beyond his years.
Caldwell was spot-on in his assessment of Powers, and Indianapolis has benefited from his talents ever since.
Powers capped his rookie season with playing time in Super Bowl XLIV and now three years later, he stands as one of the most tenured performers on a roster that features 41 players with no more than one year of NFL experience.
Powers is among a handful of returnees on a Colts defense that has been made anew dramatically for 2012. Followers of the club have heard about the hybrid 3-4, and Powers says fans will see it in action this Sunday when the Colts host St. Louis at 1:30 p.m.
“They’re definitely going to get a glimpse of what we’ve been working on and what they can expect once we get to week one with Chicago,” said Powers. “I know the fans have kind of been dying to see how things are going to pan out. How Andrew looks. How are Andrew and Reggie going to work? What’s the new 3-4 hybrid scheme everybody has been talking about? Where’s Dwight, is he standing up or down?
“Everybody’s anxious to see those things. Once Sunday comes, you’ll get a glimpse of it. You might not see the full thing, but you’ll get an idea of how we’re going to do it.”
How the team was going about re-shaping the defense under General Manager Ryan Grigson and Head Coach Chuck Pagano was evident early on. When players reported to the facility this spring as workouts ensued, Powers saw it clearly.
“They brought in some guys who the first day I saw them it was like, ‘Sheesh, how much do you weigh?’ Guys saying, ‘I’m 330 or 340.’ ” said Powers. “If you ask Pat (Angerer) or Kavell (Conner), during their first two years here they probably didn’t have a D-tackle that (was) that big.”
Powers says it is and is not awkward for the philosophy change to size. One thing he does know is the team will pass a pre-game blink test for opponents as well as performing in a way that will help the linebackers and secondary.
“It’s going to take a lot of pressure off the linebackers, especially when you’re that big up front guys can push the pocket,” said Powers. “I’m excited for it. I’m glad that during warm-ups we’re going to look just as big as the team we’re playing. I remember one year we were playing Dallas and I thought, ‘These guys are giants.’ That’s the whole style of the 3-4 hybrid system. You’re going to need some bigger guys, especially up front, to push the pocket.”
Defensive Coordinator Greg Manusky this week estimated the defense has come about 60 percent of the way. It will continue to be refined as camp and preseason games go by. For this Sunday, Powers says it is all about the unit, not the opponent.
“We won’t look at anything St. Louis is doing. We’re still worried about ourselves,” said Powers. “I think everybody is excited that we can look forward to playing somebody in a different jersey and being in our home stadium, in an opener, a new era. A few days ago we had three or four fights in one day and that tells you guys are ready to see someone else. We’re not going to treat this as a normal game week, maybe the third preseason week or so we might game plan. Definitely not early in the preseason.”
Sunday will be an initial proving ground of sorts for the defense. Powers knows it will be a measuring stick. He and his teammates have seen the defense work in practice. They have bought into the philosophy and like the mentality, but it will be put to the test by St. Louis. He finds the chance exciting.
Powers has played on two playoff clubs in his three years. The one time the Colts missed the playoffs during his tenure was a 2-14 season last year. Powers says last year is long ago and not a topic of discussion.
“This team hasn’t lost one game, just like Chicago hasn’t lost one game, or the Vikings…,” said Powers. “There might be 50-something new guys who weren’t on last year’s team. Last year has not been mentioned at all, not even one bit. Nobody is even dwelling on last year. Everyone knows in the NFL anything can happen.
“We have the same goals everyone has in training camp right now, that’s to get to the Super Bowl in New Orleans. The first goal is to win the AFC South. We’re going to take it day-by-day, meeting-by-meeting, practice-by-practice.”