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ROOKIE TRYING TO MAKE IMPACT

Posted Aug 31, 2011

Safety Joe Lefeged was not taken during the seven rounds of the NFL Draft. Because of the lockout, he was not able to join a team until just prior to training camp, when he landed with the Colts. As preseason winds down, Lefeged is trying to make an impact.

INDIANAPOLIS – Starting safeties Antoine Bethea and Melvin Bullitt bring with them 11 years of NFL experience.

Behind them in the secondary is a whole lot of youth.

Two guys who made the most of their playing time last Friday night against Green Bay have never played in an NFL regular season game.

With Bethea and backup safety Al Afalava sidelined with injuries, David Caldwell made the start alongside Bullitt.

Caldwell’s six tackles on Friday were third on the team, and his 16 total tackles paces the Colts through three preseason games.

“Antoine (Bethea) was down and the third preseason game is a simulation of a real game, and I thought he played really well,” Bullitt said of Caldwell.

Backing up Bullitt on Friday and playing a variety of positions on special teams was rookie Joe Lefeged.

An undrafted free agent out of Rutgers University, Lefeged had four kickoff returns for 103 yards against the Packers and also played on the Colts kick and punt coverage units.

“Giving me an opportunity to show what I can do on special teams, that is what’s going to be my ticket on this team,” Lefeged said. 

The Colts have had a history of undrafted rookies coming in and making an impact.  Bullitt is one of those examples, as is linebacker Gary Brackett, who made the team in 2003, four years prior to Bullitt, in the same fashion.

Bullitt and Brackett serve as two of the club’s four team captains.  Bullitt knows exactly what the young guys are going through in this final week.

“It’s one of those feelings that you know your job is on the line and you’ve got to go out there and perform,” Bullitt said. 

Four years ago it was Bullitt in those guy’s shoes and he made the most of his opportunity.

“That was my first start in the preseason (the fourth game of preseason at Cincinnati in Paul Brown Stadium).  I think I played every snap, every special teams (play), the whole game, and I mean I was dog-tired,” Bullitt said.  “At the end, I kind of got a pat on the back from Coach (Tony) Dungy.  I felt really good that night going to bed.”

Lefeged has listened loud and clear when the veterans have spoken up about what it takes to make this football team.

“One thing that they all said in common was, ‘You have to be able to run, and you have to be able to tackle well.’  So, that’s what I’ve been trying to focus on.  Just making sure I’m getting to the ball in practice and then make sure I’m a sure tackler on special teams.”

 

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