INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts began the 2016 season with some building excitement at the safety position.
Returning as starters were veteran leader Mike Adams and the up-and-coming Clayton Geathers, while the team spent a second-round pick on the ultra-athletic T.J. Green, hoping the Clemson product could learn and develop in his rookie season.
But by the end of the season, injuries had taken their toll — particularly to Geathers, who played outstanding when he was able to get onto the field, but missed seven games before being placed on injured reserve on Dec. 12.
A banged-up Geathers thrust Green into a starting role, and he showed flashes of his talents, and hopes to use a productive offseason to return in 2017 ready to compete for plenty of playing time once again.
Here's a review of the play of the Colts' safeties in 2016:
Mike Adams put in yet another productive year in his 13th NFL season — and third with the Colts — in 2016. He started 15 games at strong safety, finishing the year ranked second on the team in tackles with 80.
Adams also contributed two interceptions, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, two passes defensed and a tackle for a loss.
Adams — who was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2014 and 2015 — had one of the best games of his career Week 15 against the Minnesota Vikings, as he tallied six tackles, one interception, one forced fumble, one fumble revery and a pass defensed. His forced fumble and recovery on Vikings running back Adrian Peterson on the Colts' 9-yard line stalled a potential scoring drive, and then his interception with 28 seconds remaining in the first half led to an Adam Vinatieri field goal and a 27-0 halftime lead.
It was his first two-takeaway game since Oct. 8, 2015, when he had two interceptions against the Houston Texans.
Clayton Geathers earned the starting job at free safety heading into the 2016 season, and if not for injury issues, likely would've been the team's leading tackler. In just nine games, he had 60 tackles, while also tallying five passes defensed, two tackles for loss and one forced fumble.
Two of Geathers' biggest plays were also among the more critical stops for the Colts' defense in 2016. Week 3 against the San Diego Chargers, he forced a fumble (with was recovered by Adams) on the Chargers' second-to-last possession, essentially sealing the win.
During the Colts' Week 11 matchup against the Tennessee Titans, Geathers stuffed running back DeMarco Murray on a 4th and 1 attempt late in the fourth quarter to help seal the win.
T.J. Green saw action in 15 contests in his rookie season in 2016, including four starts. He notched 46 tackles and three passes defensed.
Green was also around the quarterback on several occasions, and was credited with three quarterback hits.
He started his NFL debut at free safety Week 1 against the Detroit Lions, and was a key piece to the Colts' victory over the Green Bay Packers Week 9 at Lambeau Field, where he logged six tackles and one quarterback hit, and also had a special teams tackle.
• Darius Butler made a successful transition to safety from cornerback in 2016, showing off his playmaking abilities at both positions, and heads into free agency an attractive option for the Colts and new general manager Chris Ballard. In all, Butler had 34 tackles, three interceptions, seven passes defensed and one forced fumble and quarterback hit apiece.
• Matthias Farley sparingly got time on the field for the Colts' defense in his rookie season in 2016, but proved to be a key playmaker on special teams. The undrafted Notre Dame product led the Colts with 12 special teams tackles during the season, and should be a core teamer heading into 2017.
Number to remember
4: The number of starts Butler had at safety for the Colts in 2016. Butler led the team with three interceptions on the year.
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