Wide Receiver Hall Says He Gained Knowledge, Confidence After Rookie-Season Injury
INDIANAPOLIS – He didn't play long last year – not nearly as long as he wanted.
That didn't keep Roy Hall from learning.
Hall, a second-year wide receiver for the Colts, sustained a season-ending shoulder injury in the third week of last season doing the thing he said ensured him a place on the Colts' roster – playing special teams. The Colts placed him on injured reserve days later.
Which was when Hall said he began really learning. He said he learned about what to do on the field. He said he learned about how the NFL works off it.
Mostly, he said, he learned what it takes to contribute to a successful team at the highest level of football, which he said brings him to his task entering his second season:
That is, take what he learned and apply it.
"This year, I'd say I'm more focused on trying to get better," Hall said during the Colts' recent 2008 organized team activities, 14 days of onfield work that ended last month at the team's training facility.
"Being hurt last year gave me the opunity to see how things operate around here on and off the field – and especially during the season, how much of a business environment it is and how serious it is and how focused you have to be and how much you do have to sacrifice to be a successful team.
"For me, it's taking what I learned in my downtime and trying get better."
Hall, a fifth-round selection in the 2007 NFL Draft, had more downtime than he wanted last season.
An athletic, speedy player with uncommon size for his position, Hall made the roster in the preseason, partly because he excelled during training camp on special teams. He played in the first three regular-season games, and was playing extensively on kickoff and punt coverage before he sustained a season-ending shoulder injury while covering a kickoff against the Houston Texans in Week 3.
Thus, Hall said, his offseason began three months earlier than that of most of his teammates.
And he said what was bad in the short term may benefit him in the long.
"When they put me on IR, I was able to watch film and watch tapes and then I started workouts," Hall said. "From there, that led into the offseason training. . . .
"I came right back here and was able to go right into the football part. Usually, the offseason is the time guys take to rest. I'd been resting."
Instead, he worked with coaches and Colts officials to improve his skills as a receiver. Hall, a four-year letterwinner at Ohio State University, started seven of 48 career games there, catching 52 passes for 580 yards and three touchdowns in college.
Colts President Bill Polian said shortly after the May/June OTAs that Hall had improved as a receiver during the off-season, and spoke highly of Hall's size and athleticism.
And Hall said that's a primary goal this season – not only playing a role offensively, but making a contribution and showing an improved comfort level in the Colts' offensive scheme.
"Last year, for me, I didn't know exactly how it was going to play out as far as making the team, not making the team," Hall said. "I more said, 'OK, I'm struggling a little learning the offense. I'm trying my best, but how I can make up for is by going all out on special teams and contribute on that side of it.' I understood I couldn't master the whole offense that (eight-time Pro Bowl quarterback) Peyton Manning has been running for 10 years, and (eight-time Pro Bowl wide receiver) Marvin (Harrison) has been here 10-12 years. I said, 'I can't learn that in just one summer and one training camp, but what I can do is give great effort and try my best on offense and special teams.' That of helped me last year.
"Now I know my job and I know my duties on special teams. I can hone more on techniques and fundamentals of being a wide receiver, then incorporate that into the offensive package."
Toward that end, Hall said he has studied any veteran he can on the Colts' offense, particularly two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Reggie Wayne.
"The little things are what make you a good player," Hall said. "I'm just trying to get in every aspect of the game, on the field, watching the vets. When Reggie Wayne was here (for the Colts' mid-May minicamp), I was studying him like crazy, just trying to get better.
"I'm just a little more comfortable with the offense, with the players in the locker room, with the coaching staff and with what we're trying to do as a team, especially offensively. I don't know it all. I still have a long way to go, but I feel a little more comfortable right now than I did last year."
Which is why he said his offseason, as early and in as unwanted a fashion as it may have begun, was a productive one – and that he feels far better entering this regular season than the last.
"I'm a little more confident, but not overly confident," he said. "I've always been low-key, laidback. I try to work hard and do what I do, but I know there's so much I can get better at. There's so much to take care of, and when training camp comes, you have to be humming. That's what (wide receivers) coach Clyde (Christensen) always says.
"I'm just trying to get better. It's a long road to the season and when the season starts, you have to know your stuff.
"I'm a little more confident, but I understand I have a long way to go before I can 'relax.'''